Jazz Helps Michael Jefry Stevens Persevere

Although it sounds like a sob story that could have been featured as a public service announcement, Blue Ridge Public Radio’s Matt Peaked does manage to explain something about the trials of a jazz musician when interviewing pianist Michel Jefry Stevens, 67. Now living in Black Mountain, North Carolina, Stevens explains how compensation for playing Jazz hasn’t increased in the many years he’s been in the music business and how he earns more money performing in Europe than the US. The story notes how as a child loner with a stutter, Stevens’ interest in the music of John Coltrane, Mose Allison, McCoy Tyner and Bill Evans convinced him that improvised music was his future and he’s never looked back. That’s despite losing a kidney as a child, a New York mugging in his forties that almost killed him and having to declare bankruptcy around 2000. A positive outlook, a supportive wife and a belief in Sufism help him survive, he explains.