Jazz styles blend in concert at Link Centre

Jazz artists Michael Jefry Stevens, left, and Brian “Breeze” Cayolle have recorded an album together that will be out in the coming months. Learn more at michaeljefrystevens.com. (Courtesy photo)

Jazz artists Michael Jefry Stevens, left, and Brian “Breeze” Cayolle have recorded an album together that will be out in the coming months. Learn more at michaeljefrystevens.com. (Courtesy photo)

By Sheena Barnett

Daily Journal

TUPELO – With chairs set up on stage surrounding Brian “Breeze” Cayolle and Michael Jefry Stevens, Tupelo audiences will get an intimate show on Friday night at the Link Centre.

The two jazz greats will take the stage at the Link Centre’s Concert Hall. Stevens said he prefers small shows like the one in Tupelo.

“What I like about playing is when the venue is small, and you can interact with the audience,” Stevens said in a phone interview with the Daily Journal.

In his 40-year career, Stevens has worked with some of the most important musicians in modern jazz. He’s composed more than 400 works for various ensembles and has released more than 75 CDs.

A New York native, he lived in Memphis for several years before recently relocating to North Carolina.

New Orleans native, saxophonist and singer-songwriter Breeze Cayolle has performed with a host of artists, including Allen Toussaint, Bonie Raitt and Dr. John.

Stevens and Cayolle met when Hurricane Katrina forced Cayolle to move north. The pair released one album, “In the Tradition,” and hope to record a second one.

“We really enjoy each other’s music,” Stevens said. “We definitely play New Orleans jazz, but we move into New York kind of jazz. It’s interesting to blend these styles. You usually only have one or the other.”

“In the Tradition” will be for sale at the Tupelo show, and the set list will include several cuts off the album.

The pair draw from each other’s different styles to create a unique sound, Stevens said.

“It’s really about a love of the music,” he said. “And that’s why we like playing with each other. We really have a passion for it.”