Jun 14, 2022
By day, Stephen Philip Harvey appears to be a mild-mannered saxophonist, music teacher and choir director in sleepy Salisbury, MD. But when he leads the estimable team of musicians known as the Stephen Philip Harvey Jazz Orchestra, he shows his superpowers as composer and bandleader. With the release of the big band’s debut album, Smash! (Next Level label), that identity should become a lot less secret.
It was Saturday morning cartoons, not comics, that introduced Harvey to the superhero mythos. The days when kids could only feast on sugared cereals and watch their heroes on television all morning seem to be long gone in the streaming era, but the sound of this album is what Harvey imagined aurally when he thought back on those characters and themes.
He assembled a crack group of 14 musicians from Western Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh in particular) and Northeast Ohio, and the results are smiling inducing from the first track. Harvey left his saxophone home when it was time to record, deciding instead to let players he viewed as technically superior to him bring his written creations to life.
Podcast 912 is my conversation with Stephen, as we discuss the inspiration for Smash!, how he came to jazz late in his musical development, and his plans for his New York debut at the Jazz Gallery in Manhattan on June 23rd. Musical selections include "Hero's Journey" and "Vigilante."