The Fonda/Stevens Group
[founded in 1992, co-led by Joe Fonda & Michael Jefry Stevens]
from left: Michael Jefry Stevens, Joe Fonda, Herb Robertson, Harvey Sorgen
Pianist and co-leader Michael Jefry Stevens has performed and/or recorded with Dave Douglas, Mark Feldman, Gerry Hemingway, Billy Martin (Medeski-Martin-Wood), Pheeroan Aklaff, Leo Wadada Smith, Steve Turre, Cecil Bridgewater, Valery Ponomerev, Potato Valdez, Thomas Chapin, and Dominic Duval His most recent releases include "The Equinox Trio: Dominic Duval" (Leo Records), The Fonda Stevens Group "Evolution" (Leo Records) and Stevens, Siegal and Ferguson "Panorama" (Imaginary Jazz). He has composed over 250 works for various musical ensembles and is also a highly experienced educator and clinician with recent clinics including Arhus, Denmark; Mexico City, Mexico; Tempe, Arizona; Bristol, Virginia; Lichtensteinn School of Jazz.
Bassist and co-leader Joe Fonda has developed an extensive international reputation over the last several years recording and touring with the world renowned Anthony Braxton including performances at some of the world's most prestigious jazz festivals including the North Sea Jazz Festival and the Istanbul International Jazz Festival. He is also featured bassist on numerous recording with Mr. Braxton including the famed Charlie Parker Project Recordings as well as the piano quartet recordings with Braxton on piano Mr. Fonda has performed with such notable musicians as Ken McIntyre, Charlie Persip, Lou Donaldson, Perry Robinson, Kenny Barron, Leo Smith, Curtis Fuller, Chico Hamilton, and others. He recently recorded his first solo bass CD and has released numerous CD's on the Konnex jazz label, Leo Records, and the Music and Arts label
Master Drummer Harvey Sorgen has performed or recorded with Anthony Braxton, Bruce Hornsby, Jack De-Johnette, Bob Weir, David Torn, Ahmad Jamal, Los Lobos, Art Lande, Roswell Rudd, NRBQ, and Bill Frisell. He is currently a working member of the world famous rock group "Hot Tuna" and was a featured in a recent modern drummer interview article. His album credits include Hot Tuna, The Arc Quartet, The Mallards, the Mosaic Sextet, NRBQ, and Sorgen-Rust-Stevens Trio. His first instructional video, "Drumming Made Easy" is available worldwide from Homespun tapes, Inc.
Herb Robertson is internationally renowned as one of the most innovative trumpet/brass improvisers of the twentieth century. In 1981, Robertson became one of the original members of Tim Berne's ensemble and shortly after joined Mark Helias' band. It was with these two artists that Robertson first began receiving enormous critical acclaim for his original brass concept incorporating extended mute techniques. Mr. Robertson has recorded five albums under his own name and has appeared with such artists as Bill Frisell, Wayne Horvitz, John Zorn, Bobby Previte, Charlie Haden Music Liberation Orchestration, Anthony Davis, Elliot Sharpe, The George Gruntz Concert Jazz Band, Barry Guy and the London Jazz Composer's Orchestra, Paul Motian, and Dewy Redman among others. He has performed at most of the important European Jazz and New Music festivals including the "October Meeting" in Amsterdam, the Moers Festival in Berlin, Saalfelden, Willasau, Arri and Nicklesdorf Music festivals.
Fonda/Stevens Group live from Marburg, Germany, October, 2008
Herb Robertson (trumpet), Michael Jefry Stevens (piano), Joe Fonda (bass), Harvey Sorgen (drums)
Critics about the FSG
Over the past five years and the course of four CD's the Fonda/Stevens Group has evolved into one of Jazz/improvised music's most accomplished ensembles. Straddling the line between post-bop and free, they have come up with consistently satisfying albums...What's impressive is how these five create a cohesive unit without grandstanding egos getting in the way.
Cadence Magazine, March 1999
This great under-recognized ensemble of local giants has done ten releases of their superb playing in various forms, ... This cd is live from a European tour, the only place where they get a chance to blow minds, sadly enough, so rarely in NYC where three of them live. ...
Bruce Lee Gallanter in his review of FSG's Evolution
... Evolution confirms that the Fonda-Stevens Group is one of the best-kept secrets in jazz. This fourth release from the quintet is one of the best showcases to date for five of the most exciting instrumentalists currently playing. ... Every so often there comes along a really striking disc, one that serious jazz listeners should not overlook. Here it is. Don't miss it.
Robert Spencer in his review of FSG's Evolution
... Improvisations like this are born out of a special musical rapport between musicians who really listen and react well to each other. Whether in a quartet or quintet line-up, the Fonda/Stevens Group engage in a musical ESP that is wonderful to behold.
Christian Carey in his review of FSG's Twelve Improvisations
Arguably one of the finest working units in modern jazz, ...
Glenn Astarita in his review of FSG's Twelve Improvisations
... one of the great and often underappreciated jazz groups of the modern era ...
Steven Loewy in his review of FSG's The Healing
... A modest gem.
Peter Margasak in his review of FSG's Live at the Bunker
... Without further ado, Live At The Bunker is a magnificent release and a late entry into this writer's hypothetical top ten list for 2000. Folks, modern jazz doesn't get much better than this!
Glenn Astarita in his review of FSG's Live at the Bunker
... What is always special to me about Fonda and Stevens is that not only do they "play," but they infuse it with such joie de vive that you just want to throw their other discs in the machine in turn. ...
Steve Koenig in his review of FSG's Live at the Bunker
... The band throughout prove themselves to be unspeakably swinging. ...
Richard Cochrane in his review of FSG's Live at the Bunker
... "Live at the Bunker" is absolutely solid, heartfelt, good music, and I strongly recommend it to anyone, including Wynton Marsalis and Brad Meldhau fans (I'm sure they'll thoroughly enjoy it).
Dân Warburton in his review of FSG's Live at the Bunker
... The Fonda/Stevens Groups remains one of the great ensembles in modern jazz, each disc continues to astonish us with the ever-creative and spirited playing.
Bruce Lee Gallanter in his review of FSG's Forever Real
... This album is definitely not intended for the casual listener. It needs to be heard over and over in order to grasp what it means. It can be a bit of a scary ride at first, but you get used to it and realize that these musicians had a whole concept in mind when creating this strange but wonderful music.
Ernest Barteldes in his review of FSG's Forever Real
... The Fonda/Stevens Group is partly about the sum of its parts, where the respective musicians emerge as stylists by honing a group-based methodology that stands on its own. ...
Glenn Astarita in his review of FSG's Forever Real
... Largely unknown here in the US, the group is well recognized in Europe, certainly unfortunate as it deserves recognition. ...
Dennis Hollingsworth in his review of FSG's Forever Real
... Curiously and consistently overlooked in North America, the Fonda/Stevens Group, thankfully, enjoys a solid reputation in Europe that permits the group to continue. And with Forever Real, it manages to combine heady composition with more visceral improvisation, making this a potent and highly recommended release for those who enjoy their free music with a little more form.
John Kelman in his review of FSG's Forever Real
Simply put, the Fonda/Stevens Group is one of the finest and most underrated post-bop groups around. ...
Ryan McDermott in his review of FSG's Forever Real