Premiere: Listen To ‘Provinces,’ A New Tune From Walter Smith III & Matthew Stevens


Saxophonist Walter Smith III (foreground) and guitarist Matthew Stevens have recorded a new album, In Common 2.

(Photo: Courtesy Whirlwind Recordings)

Saxophonist Walter Smith III and guitarist Matthew Stevens achieved such artistic fulfillment with their 2018 album, In Common, they’re back for another go.

The co-leaders launched the band in 2017 with the idea that it could have rotating members. In Common featured vibraphonist Joel Ross, bassist Harish Raghavan and drummer Marcus Gilmore, but a different cast recorded the follow-up, In Common 2, which Whirlwind is set to release on May 15. Joining Smith and Stevens for the second installment are pianist Micah Thomas, bassist Linda May Han Oh and drummer Nate Smith.

The single “Provinces,” a Stevens original, premieres below.

“‘Provinces’ was written relatively fast, as sometimes happens for no discernible reason,” Stevens said in a press release. “The melody and song form developed simply in a way that let the band inject themselves into the song quickly. ... [T]his was the only take we recorded, and I think it aptly captures the spirit and immediacy of the album.”

“[That was] the first song that Matt shared with me as we started the writing process for this album,” saxophonist Smith added. “It definitely rides the line of melancholy and playfulness, and really set the tone for what the rest of the album would become.”

Smith and Stevens composed the new material here specifically for the band, highlighting the various members’ strengths. The result is a set of concise statements of melody. “We’re trying to do something different from what we’d do on our own,” the saxophonist said. “We’re going off what we imagine the band will sound like, and continuing to focus on being direct, melodic and interactive.”

Other tracks in the program include “Clem” (inspired by the video game The Walking Dead) and “Van De Linde” (inspired by the video game Red Dead Redemption).

The only cover on the album is “Roy Allan,” interpreted as a tribute to its composer, trumpeter Roy Hargrove (1969–2018). The song originally appeared on Hargrove’s 1995 album, Family. DB

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June 2023
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