Guitarist Steve Knight is releasing his debut album, Persistence, a trio recording featuring seven of his originals as well as several compositions by other artists. Like most jazz guitarists, Knight is influenced by the pantheon of jazz greats like Wes Montgomery, Jim Hall, and Grant Green, but his greatest inspiration is George Benson.
“I don’t like music that seems to be written just for other musicians,” says Knight. “A jazz guitarist is part poet and part athlete. I think Benson strikes the perfect balance. He’s an incredible technician on the guitar, but his music is very accessible for a general audience.”Steve Knight
Indeed, Knight displays his considerable chops on Persistence, but never overwhelms the listener with mere showmanship and that may be what holds this album back.
This is a tight knit trio who know each others playing well and who all play well. The twelve tracks that make up the album come in at around fifty-five minutes total playing time but could easily be cut by approximately fifteen minutes and not lose the feel of the whole. The guitar playing of Steve Knight is good, crisp and clear but there is no real sense of adventure. The support from bassist Justin Paterson and drummer Jeff Stitely matches that of the trio’s leader.
There is texture and tonal colour to the album, just not enough of it – I had to wait until track six, ‘Chop Chop’ before I was presented with something that made me want to press the track repeat button. If we listen to Tom Petty’s ‘Mary Jane’s Last Dance’, it has been pared so far back from the original that it sounds like a warm-up piece lacking in conviction. Having said that, the version of Clapton’s ‘Change The World’ does stand up and I prefer the cover to the original.
There is little doubt that this trio do know how to play but it is what and how they have chosen to play that has prevented this album to stand out from the crowd – and at the moment the jazz guitar album release market is considerable and easily lost in. This music is “very accessible” and for me that is what holds it back. I should like to hear Steve Knight stretch out and push his band so that this listener does not feel that he is just being politely entertained but emotionally, evocatively, and actively engaged with: I like to be made to think.
Persitence is released Friday, 12 August, 2022.
Musicians: Steve Knight – guitar; Justin Peterson – bass; Jeff Stitely – drums.
Tracklist: 1. Suspects. 2. Cisco. 3. Real Type Thing. 4. Sharps Disposal. 5. Persistence. 6. Chop Chop. 7. Just Add Meaning. 8. Mary Jane’s Last Dance. 9. Art’s Rant. 10. Workshop. 11. Change the World. 12. Sharps Disposal.
All compositions by Steve Knight except ‘Cisco’ by Pat Martino, ‘Mary Jane’s Last Dance’ by Tom Petty, ‘Art’s Rant’ by Justin Peterson, and ‘Change the World’ by Tommy Sims, Gordon Kennedy, & Wayne Kirkpatrick.