"Stephen Arnold is already known as one of the most versatile bassists and side musicians on the D.C. jazz scene. His debut album as a bandleader, Sea Change, with his band of the same name, proves that he may be one of the city’s most imaginative composers too."
- Jackson Sinnenberg, Capitalbop
"Bassist and composer Steve Arnold releases his debut album, Sea Change, today. The album features an array of eclectic instruments and thoughtful songs that cohere seamlessly into a beautiful whole.... Arnold and his collective set a wistful-yet-hopeful tone on Sea Change, one sure to bring a little light to a decisively grey moment in our country’s history.... “Greenfield” is a guitar and bass-driven tune with a lilting, almost melancholy melody, with keys and a sax to match — each instrument taking its time to inhale the gentle air of the song. A touch of accordion eases in just before the songs’ crescendo, lifting the tune to a serene, almost ethereal place. Much of the album echoes that same ambiguous yet calming aura, leaving the listener to conjure a meaning to each tune specific to themselves. In times as tumultuous as these, Sea Change offers a much needed deep breath."
- Sadie Gronigan, Capitalbop
Stephen Arnold is a touring and recording bassist, composer, producer, and arranger based in Washington, D.C. Known for his deep sense of groove, earnest expression, and stylistic versatility, he plays with many of the most forward-thinking and hard-grooving groups in the region on both upright and electric bass., including Sharon Clark, Fran Vielma, Brian Settles, Sarah Marie Hughes, Thad Wilson, Simone Baron & Arco Belo, Donvonte’ McCoy, Aaron Myers, Alex Hamburger, and Elijah Jamal Balbed. Arnold is also an accomplished bandleader in his own right, fronting Sea Change, a contemporary jazz band that makes something new from the combination of his deep love of jazz and improvised music with his folk, rock, and soul roots.
Sea Change’s eponymous debut recording presents a narrative drawn from music written during and about a pivotal period in Arnold’s life. This ensemble of potent musical personalities conjures vibrant sonic landscapes within the worlds of Arnold’s songs. The textural interplay between accordionist Simone Baron, guitarist Nelson Dougherty, and pianist Aleks Izotov creates massive, three-dimensional waves of support behind the unmistakable call of Brian Settles’ tenor saxophone, though each player is sensitive enough leave room to feature one another. Drummer Keith Butler, Jr. and bassist Arnold, whose musical connection has developed over years working together in several bands, seamlessly move from moments of tender subtlety to all-out rock and roll. Sarah Marie Hughes plays two duets on soprano saxophone with Arnold at the piano that feature her sensitive interpretations of melody and adventurous and cathartic improvisation.
Capitalbop.com named Sea Change the #4 D.C. jazz album of 2020 and wrote that "the album features an array of eclectic instruments and thoughtful songs that cohere seamlessly into a beautiful whole.... Arnold and his collective set a wistful-yet-hopeful tone on Sea Change, one sure to bring a little light to a decisively grey moment in our country’s history.” The album was also a finalist for jazz album of the year at the Washington Area Music Awards.
Hear the Album Here:
Artwork © 2020 Elaine Wijaya