ARC Spotlight Artists New Releases

Stevens wins Best Composer


ARC’s Michael Jefry Stevens has been voted “Best Composer” in the annual Readers Poll of Asheville, North Carolina’s popular “Mountain Xpress“.


Mr. Stevens in concert

Pianist, Composer and “Steinway Artist,” Michael Jefry Stevens has released over 80 cds and composed over 340 works for both large and small ensembles. An active band-leader for over 40 years, his current working musical ensembles include the “Conference Call Quartet,” the “Fonda/Stevens Group,” “Eastern Boundary Quartet,” his collaboration with New Orleans horn man, Brian “Breeze” Cayolle and “Trio Generations” featuring saxophonist Oliver Lake.


Over the past 40 years Pianist/Composer Michael Jefry Stevens has been associated with some of the most important figures in modern jazz. Beginning with his first CD release in 1991 as a member of Mark Whitecage’s Liquid Time Group, Mr. Stevens has been in the forefront of the NYC and international improvised music scene. Between 1988-1990 he co-led the now legendary “Mosaic Sextet” with Dave Douglas. This group included Mark Feldman on violin, Michael Rabinowitz on bassoon, and the rhythm section of Harvey Sorgen on drums and Joe Fonda on bass. Their “Today This Moment” CD release on Konnex Records and re-release on GM Recordings is considered one of the classic modern jazz recordings of the 1990’s and was voted one of the best 1000 jazz recordings by the 2011 Penguin Guide to Jazz. This rhythm section went on to become the nucleus for Mr. Stevens working quartet the Fonda/Stevens Group. Since the quartet’s inception in 1992, the Fonda/Stevens Group has released 12 cds, repeatedly toured Europe and is one of the most successful working modern jazz groups on the international scene. Mr. Stevens also began a very fruitful and fulfilling relationship with Leo Records with his duo “Haiku” CD release in 1994, featuring Mark Feldman on violin. These piano/violin improvisations proved to be a pivotal link between Mr. Stevens work in both the composed and improvised music worlds. Mr. Stevens has currently released nine cd’s on Leo Records, including “Elements” with bassist Dominic Duval, and “Twelve Improvisations” with the Fonda/Stevens Group. To date he has released over 80 cds.

Michael Jefry Stevens has composed over 320 works for various ensembles, including big band, string quartet, music for voice, music for solo instruments and various small group compositions. Mr. Stevens was the Margaret Lee Crofts Fellow at “The MacDowell Colony” in the summer of 2000, received 2nd prize in the prestigious Monaco International Jazz Composition in 1998, and was a composer fellow at the Centrum Arts Colony in Port Townsend, WA in June 2005. In 2007 he received a “Professional Development Support Grant” from the Tennesee Art’s Commission. He has been Composer-in-Residence at Virginia Intermont College (1999) where he scored music in collaboration with the dance department and was composer–in–residence at the Oxford Music Academy Summer workshop in 2002. In 2009 Mr. Stevens was named a “Steinway” Performing Artist (the first ever for the City of Memphis). He currently resides in Black Mountain, NC and is artist-in-residence every year at the jazz workshop at Educacion Musicale in La Plata, Argentina. He has been on the performing artist roster of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts since 1998. In 1999 Mr. Stevens began the Conference Call Quartet, featuring his partner of many years, bassist Joe Fonda, in collaboration with German saxophonist Gebhard Ullmann and George Schuller on drums. This quartet has released 7 cd’s, including their latest CD “Seven” on the Polish “Nottwo” Record Label (2014).

Since 2005 he has released 4 cds on the Polish Nottwo Record Label: Decade featuring the Sorgen-Rust-Stevens Trio and most recently the Fonda/Stevens Group “TRIO” CD. Other more recent projects include a duo with Serbian violist Szilard Mezei, the quartet project “Eastern Boundary” featuring Hungarian drummer Balazs Bagyi and Hungarian saxophonist Mihaly Borbely, a Quintet project with Danish guitarist Jon Hemmersam featuring Dave Liebman on saxophone, the “Brain Inventory Trio” featuring 2 of Finland’s most innovative improvisers (Esa Pietila and Juho Laitenen), the Swiss/German quartet featuring Ewald Hugle, his partnership with New Orleans horn man and vocalist Brian “Breeze” Cayolle, the CD release “Duets” with vibaphonist Jason DeCristofaro and the 2014 release of the Wendy Jones Quartet CD “Perfect Dream” featuring 11 of my original compositions.

Michael Jefry Stevens is truly a believer in the global music community and a vocal exponent of an international music. He is a member of the IASJ (International Association of Schools of Jazz), ISIM (International Society of Impovised Music) and the AAPF (Asheville Area Piano forum).

Also see:




To build community and strengthen democracy by serving an active, thoughtful readership at the local level, where the impact of citizen action is greatest.

  • WE ARE… an independent newspaper located in Asheville, North Carolina.
  • We report independently, fairly and in-depth on local news and issues affecting Asheville and the surrounding region.
  • We chronicle the area’s vibrant arts-and-culture scene.
  • We treat our readers as participants in an ongoing civic dialogue.
  • We honor diversity.
  • We encourage excellent and innovative work in an equitable, respectful and collegial environment.
  • We offer exceptional and affordable media opportunities for local businesses, professionals and nonprofit groups to promote their goods and services.

# # #

Share this: