Michael Jefry Stevens

Eastern Boundary Quartet

The EASTERN BOUNDARY Quartet is a collaborative quartet featuring the Hungarian master musicians. drummer Balazs Bagyi and saxophonist Mihaly Borbely, and the long-standing bass/piano partnership of New York City bassist Joe Fonda and pianist Michael Jefry Stevens (co-leaders of the Fonda/Stevens Group and Conference Call).  Since 2007 the quartet has toured Europe and the United States numerous times.  The Quartet will be touring Europe again in October, 2024.  The group has released four CDs.

In 2007 Hungarian musicians Balazs Bagyi and Mihaly Borbely and USA musicians Joe Fonda and Michael Jefry Stevens formed the Eastern Boundary Quartet. The group uses Hungarian folk rhythms and melodies in combination with Jazz harmonies and rhythms to form an original “hybrid” improvised music.

The Eastern Boundary Quartet performs original music by all members of the group. The band was formed with the imagination of connecting two worlds of the jazz scene today. This unique collaboration is a mixture of avant-garde jazz and ethno music from Hungary, like a cultural bridge between the USA and Eastern Europe. This bridge is made of talent, respect, brotherhood and friendship, built by the common language of jazz and improvised music.

The members...

“The Eastern Boundary Quartet – Hungarians Mihály Borbély on soprano saxophone and tárogató with drummer Balázs Bágyi alongside New Yorkers Michael Jefry Stevens (piano) and bassist Joe Fonda – is an exceptional demonstration of cross-cultural and multinational talent who work well together whenever an opportunity arises.”

CD Releases...

Click or tap the album cover to read the review.

Review of the Eastern Boundary Quartet CD

ALL ABOUT JAZZ – NEW YORK MARCH 2009 ISSUE

 

Eponymous Eastern Boundary Quartet (Biem Artisjus) by Karen Hogg

 

On the eponymous debut of the Eastern Boundary Quartet, the music literally crosses international boundaries as Stevens, along with bassist Joe Fonda, collaborates with Hungarian musicians Balazs Bagyi (drums) and Mihaly Borbely (sax). 

 

This live recording is a musical quilt combining the spirit of jazz with the distinctive nature of Hungarian music. The disc begins with Song for My Mother, a Fonda composition, that starts off plaintively, building to an insistent crescendo and ending with masterful drum work. 

 

The End Game, a Latin-flavored Stevens piece, features a melodic, virtuosic solo from Fonda and on Tuzugras/Fire Jumping, the quartet exhibits an uncanny energy and drive. Rounding out the disc is an improvisational piece and Mongo Santamariaís Afro Blue. With two American and two Hungarian musicians, the Eastern Boundary Quartet is a musical melting pot of the best kind.

Review of the Icicles CD

Downtown Music Gallery, NYC!!!
EASTERN BOUNDARY QUARTET [MIHALY BORBELY/MICHAEL JEFRY STEVENS /JOE FONDA/BALAZS BAGYI] – Eastern Boundary (Artisjus 01; Hungary) 

Recorded live at Nyitott Muhely, Budapest on May 12, 2007. Featuring Mihaly Borbely on soprano sax, Michael Jefry Stevens on piano, Joe Fonda on acoustic bass and Balazs Bagyi on drums. 

Every few months, downtown bassist supreme, Joe Fonda leaves us with a new CD and each time I am surprised to get another gem. Sometimes it is another version of great Fonda/Stevens Group and sometimes it features lesser-known musicians. And every time, I smile at the results. 

I can’t say that I’ve heard of either of these fine Hungarian musicians, but again I am pleased to hear some new, creative spirits. Joe Fonda’s “Song for My Mother” opens with some haunting piano, bowed bass and spacious mallets. There is some strong interplay between the members of the piano, bass and drums, but it is the soprano sax that takes great, serpent-like solo in the second half. Michael Stevens’ “The End Game” has a lovely, laid back melody and more sublime soprano from Mihaly, as well as a fine bass solo from Mr. Fonda. 

By “Fire Jumping” the quartet start to soar with some great rolling piano, amazing jet-propelled bass and hard-swinging, Art Blakey-like drums. “Improvisation” is just that and all four players get a chance to stretch out and swirl powerfully around one another. The quartet concludes with a tasty version of Mongo Santamaria’s classic “Afro Blue.” John Coltrane’s version of this song is perhaps the most revered version and the quartet do play it in a most spirited Trane-like way with some superb soprano sax and a rich, lyrical, sparkling piano solo from Mr. Stevens. – BLG

Mountain Song

Style: jazz waltz

Grade: 3

I wrote this song while I was living in Brooklyn, NY and spending quite a bit of time in Woodstock, NY.  This is the closest thing to a “country music” song I have ever written.  This composition was recorded by myself and bassist Eliot Wadopian on our "Mountain Song" duo CD.  This piece is extremely playable at most levels!!!

Mountain Song

$2.49

Alisiah

Style: Swing

Grade: 1

Alisiah is one of my earliest compositions. The tonality revolves around C major, F major and Eminor. It is a very simple medium tempo swing tune. Nothing fancy.  This piece was recorded on my "Duets" CD with vibraphonist Jason DeCristofaro.

Alisiah

$2.49

For My Brother

Style: Ballad

Grade: 2

The harmonies move quite slowly in this ballad.  The most challenging aspect of the piece are the 2/4 bars.  This ballad was recorded on Jon Hemmersam's "Remembering" CD release which also featured Dave Liebman and Rakalam Bob Moses.

For My Brother

$2.49

Lei’s Song

Style: Waltz

Grade: 2

This is one of my favorite compositions.  Written in 3/4 time, but with phrases grouped in three’s, four’s and other odd groupings this is a very unique piece.  Also, it is made up entirely of minor 7 chords.  The Fonda/Stevens Group recorded this tune on our CD "The Healing".

Lei’s Song

$2.49

The Beauty That We Are

Style: Ballad

Grade: 1

This ballad is quite easy to play.  The changes move very slowly giving the student plenty of time to navigate the harmonic landscape.

The Beauty That We Are

$2.49

The Moffett Family

Style: Blues

Grade: 2

This piece was composed in the early 1980's and dedicated to Charnett Moffett and his family band. I played with the band for one year. The tune is a simple form containing only dominant chords. The feel is very bluesy.

The Moffett Family

$2.49

Red’s Blues

Style: Blues, swing

Grade: 2

This is a very simple “swing” composition with a bluesy feel but not in a Blues form. The changes are very simple. The head is a question-and-answer with the melody and the rhythm section.  A good piece to introduce the blues scale to students. Released on my "Red's Blues" CD.

Red’s Blues

$2.49

Song for Rio

Style: Latin

Grade: 3

I wrote this bossa nova after visiting Rio in 1999.  The form is quite long and the bridge is very chromatic.  The piece is highly melodic and quite fun to play.  The "Stevens, Siegel & Ferguson Trio" recorded this tune on our "Six" CD release.

Song for Rio

$2.49

Memorial

Style: Latin

Grade: 4

This piece features a Latin feel written out in the piano part.  The changes are pretty standard and move slowly enough for the student to navigate quite easily. The bridge of the tune is a fun release from all the harmonic movement in the beginning section of the composition.  The "Stevens, Siegel & Ferguson Trio" recorded this composition on our "Panorama" CD which featured Valery Ponomarev on trumpet.

Memorial

$2.49

The Innocence of Spring

Style: Swing

Grade: 4

This medium swing tune consists of an extended melody and long form.  The harmonies are very chromatic and include some hybrid chordal structures as well.  The piece is challenging but worth the effort.  I recorded this on my "The Innocence of Spring" CD with saxophonist Don Aliquo.

The Innocence of Spring

$2.49

Kulturshock

Style: Swing

Grade: 5

This is a very adventurous composition. The harmonies are very difficult and the rhythms are quite unusual. A great challenge for the advanced player.  I wrote this piece shortly after moving from Brooklyn, NY to Memphis, TN.  That was quite a culture shock!!!

Kulturshock

$2.49

Four Wheeler

Style: Swing

Grade: 2

This composition is an open swing feel featuring a chromatic chord sequence and several polychords.  The changes move quickly making the piece difficult for the soloist to navigate. The melody is not difficult but overall the piece is challenging.  This is dedicated to the great trumpeter Kenny Wheeler.

Four Wheeler

$2.49

The Beauty That We Are

Style: ballad
Grade: 2

This ballad is quite easy to play.  The changes move very slowly giving the student plenty of time to navigate the harmonic landscape.

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