19 Sep 2021

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Stephen Galvin - Album Review: Modal Behaviour

02 Sep 2021 // A review by Kev Rowland

Stephen Galvin is a multi-instrumentalist who was invited to teach at the New Zealand Guitar Academy at the tender age of 23, before opening his own teaching studio in 1984. Since then, he has performed in bands of different genres, as well as teaching music to thousands of Aucklanders. This album was recorded in just two days with the assistance of David Feehan and his band, and while the correct description of the album is that of “jazz”, that it itself covers a multitude of styles and he certainly crosses through many in this album of mostly instrumentals, with just two with vocals within the ten songs.

The album commences with one of the vocal tracks, Django, which is a tribute to the mighty Django Reinhardt. Surely anyone who enjoys jazz has gone back in time to investigate the incredible Quintette du Hot Club de France which Reinhardt formed with violinist Stéphane Grappelli, and this song not only tells the story of his life and that awful fire in words, but Galvin captures some of his famous style. Cleverly, he used a fretless bass instead of a guitar, which avoids any direct comparison and allows one to enjoy the song for what it is. From here on in we move through different contemporary jazz styles and even some blues, but there is never a feeling of rush, and instead one of clever arrangements and scoring. This is particularly true in Woody Would, where Stephen allows others to take solos, and then everyone comes in on the runs to bring it all home.

There are times when we move more into Latin territory such as the title cut, which has its base in the cha cha (being the father of a dancer I can attest that this is by far the most interesting number I have ever come across in that style), or even into blues, but always with the same control and clarity of thought in the lead melodies with strong support. This is not something which will challenge the listener, but instead is something that fans of all types of jazz can sit back and enjoy. The production is clear, with good separation, yet one always knows this was recorded by a band playing together as opposed to being spliced together from lots of different sessions, as it breathes and really lives.

If I could change just one thing about the album, that would be to move Django away from the beginning, just because it feels so very different from the rest of the songs, and someone who listened to just that may feel it is indicative of the rest of the material. Whatever the sequence though, this is a refreshing and delightful album.

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )

About Stephen Galvin

Stephen Galvin plays, guitar, bass, drums and vocals.

He is is an experienced, registered and qualified teacher of Music.

"I started playing jazz in my later teen years, and when I was 24 started working with the NZ Guitar Academy in Auckland, for which I wrote a course in guitar and bass playing. That led to me forming my own studio when I was 27, and that’s been my full-time occupation since then. So gig life has been a pleasant sideline to teaching and I’ve played in orchestras, church groups, music theatre, a lot of jazz gigs, private and café gigs, cover bands – ...”

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Stephen Galvin


Modal Behaviour
Year: 2021
Type: Album

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