About Eastern Boundary Quartet
Since the mid-1980s, pianist Michael Jefry Stevens and bassist Joe Fonda have formed two-thirds of the rhythm teams of many bands. Several have played at Bop Shop Records during the past three decades. Of course, there’s the Fonda/Stevens Group, a band they formed to showcase their compositions and a group that has been referred to as “one of the best-kept secrets in American jazz.” And they’re the piano/bass team in Conference Call, which has appeared four times at Bop Shop Records. Over the years, they’ve cropped up on recordings by Mark Whitecage’s Liquid Time, singer Katie Bull’s groups, the Generations Quartet with Oliver Lake and many others. In 2009, they were part of one of the most fascinating and lively bands we’ve ever presented at Bop Shop Records, Eastern Boundary Quartet.
Stevens and Fonda formed the quartet with two Hungarian musicians they met on tour, saxophonist Mihaly Borbely and drummer Balasz Bagyi. They played together and realized there was a common bond among them. Their goal was to experiment with a mixture of Hungarian music and adventurous improvised American music and see if it worked. And 10 years later, the band is still going strong.
Borbely is a multi-reedist who has made his mark on the Hungarian improvised music scene and has played with American artists such as Paul Bley, Dave Liebman, Steve Coleman and others. He’s also well-versed in various styles of Hungarian music, especially folk and classical. Bagyi is a drummer who’s comfortable swinging and driving jazz rhythms as well as providing the unique rhythmic sensibilities needed to play Hungarian folk music. What’s amazing is how these four players merge into one fully integrated group. It’s fascinating to hear Borbely’s lines and improvisations, rich with echoes of Hungarian music, mesh with Stevens’ melodic and harmonic sensibilities. And Bagyi’s complex rhythms fit hand in glove and inspire Fonda’s adventurous impulses. They’re a singing, dancing, fire-jumping improvising unit, and by the end of that 2009 concert, the appreciative audience was on its feet, applauding wildly.
Since 2007, they’ve released three albums and toured Europe to wide acclaim. They’re touring the U.S. for the first time since 2009. We’re lucky to have them and are really looking forward to this one. It will be a fascinating listening experience, bringing in solid jazz as well as nods to Hungarian folk music with the spirit of lively adventure. Prepare yourself for a stimulating evening of music.