In Common are all about simplicity and improv

The new quintet, led by Walter Smith III and Matthew Stevens, have announced themselves with a ten-track release.

There’s something about simple, poignant jazz that blooms from the spontaneous energy of a room full of musical talents. In Common have captured that understated magic in their eponymous debut album, released late last week on Whirlwind Recordings.

The quintet are led by tenor saxophonist Walter Smith III, who put out the critically acclaimed album TWIO earlier in February, and guitarist Matthew Stevens, who released Preverbal last year.

“Walter and I had been talking about putting a recording session together,” Stevens explained in a statement, “and decided to go into the studio with music that could be quickly interpreted with an interesting group of musicians and to let it unfold naturally from there.”


Those who met Stevens and Smith in an upstate New York recording studio were bassist Harish Raghavan, who worked with Smith on TWIO; vibraphonist and recent Makaya McCraven collaborator Joel Ross; and prolific drummer Marcus Gilmore.

Standouts include “Unsung,” the group’s tribute to those overlooked in society, and “Unconditional Love,” a take on the late Geri Allen composition of the same title. Stream those songs and the rest of the new album below:

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