John "Chip" Stephens

Professor of Jazz Piano & Jazz Studies

B.M., University of Akron; M.M., Cleveland State University

Review of "40 Fingers at the Jazz Kitchen" in Indianapolis, IN.

           Quote; "Magical, mesmerizing, momentous.  The Jazz Kitchen was transformed on October 19 and we were transported with 40 fingers, 10 each belonging to four gifted Midwest jazz pianists: Steve Allee, Indianapolis; Phil DeGregg, Cincinnati; Luke Gillespie, Bloogmington, IN.; and Chip Stephens, Urbana-Champaign.  Watching their fingers was a musical treat, but feeling the chemistry through facial expressions as they played off each other and observing the dynamics of their body language as they each brought something of themselves into a piece was mouth-dropping.  The Great American Songbook gained huge luster with the arrangements, spin-off licks and coiling back to the melody, transporting and transforming the expected into something different. If it gets better than this anywhere else, I don't need to travel there, because the best is here at home.  October, 2014; NUVO; Indy's Alternative Voice, by Rita Kohn

          Reviews of the Chip Stephens CD, entitled, "Relevancy."

 Quote; “This intimate and somewhat reflective sound scape of passion looks at not just music but the world itself with a new found wonder which seems to magically, if not mysteriously transcend the work presented here. The tunes are in the deep catalog, are pulled off in a masterful fashion and create lasting musical images long after the final notes die out.”  5 out of 5 stars.  June, 2013;, by Chris Spector.

Quote; “Stephens displays great fluency on the fast numbers and a deep introspective eloquence on the ballads. In my view, the accolades don’t come any higher!”  June, 2013;

Quote; “Breathe it in! Some real, muscular, no apologies hard bop piano!  Stephens is a real deal, head-spinning jazz pianist! I love what he does and I think you will too!”  July, 2013;, by George Fendel.

Quote; “Stephens makes good on his own words, delivering music that’s real, honest and true, but in doing so, proving that musical reality comes in different shapes and sizes. Stephens confirms his own "relevancy" in today’s jazz world with this appropriately titled release.”  July, 2013;; by Dan Bilawasky.

Quote; “He’s well known in the jazz world, having played with iconic groups like Glenn Miller, Woody Herman, Maynard Ferguson, Benny Golson, Curtis Fuller and many others. Stephens is one hell of a pianist, and this unit is a “must listen to” group!”  October, 2013; Jazz Scan, by Ric Bang.

Reviews of other recordings and performances;

"...and Stephens, a hardbop wizard whose "C. Hip's Blues", with its stop-time routines and tags, is the joyous highlight of this CD".  New York City Jazz Record review; August, 2012 by George Kanzler.

"Chip Stephens is like Gaudi architecture, all riffs and adornments straight from nature - from music that you know and more amazing for being that way since he links every phrase into a whole that the most artful patissiere would envy: a finely spun wonder of the imagination from the same ingredients that usually bring us Pop Tarts".  The Starr Review; September, 2012 by Ann Starr.

"Stephens' "C. Hip's" blues is an unexpected gem, set up and later consummated by a motif that derserves a role in a Pink Panther movie".  Down Beat Magazine; October, 2012 by Jennifer Odell.

Sought after for his outstanding collaborative abilities, Chip Stephens can be heard on nearly 80 records and compact discs as a side-man and band leader. In 2014, Mr. Stephens was asked to collaborate with the uber talented, Charles McPherson on his latest compact disc, entitled; "The Journey." A CD recorded with the world renowned trombonist, Curtis Fuller in 2012, entitled; "Down Home" received outstanding internatinal reviews.  Two of Stephens' origianl compositions written specifically for Mr. Fuller, were aired world-wide, 2773 times in a 12 month period. "Down Home" was ranked 5th in the nation out of 100 Jazz Albums released in 2012.  An album recorded with Fuller in 2010, entitled, “I Will Tell Her” remained at number 1 on the jazz radio charts for nearly two months.  Mr. Stephens is regarded in the industry as a powerful jazz pianist, hard swinging, lyrical and clear.  He has performed on 4 continents with some of the most prestigious and legendary names in the history of jazz.  Having performed on Grammy and Emmy winning recordings with trumpet legend Arturo Sandoval, his performing and recording credits are many and include; Eden Atwood, Michael Brecker, Jerry Brown, Kenny Burrell, John Fedchock, Maynard Ferguson, Curtis Fuller, George Garzone, Greg Gisbert, Benny Golson, The Woody Herman Orchestra, Charlie Haden, Conrad Herwig, Milt Hinton, Red Holloway,  Javon Jackson, Ingrid Jensen, Randy Johnston, Steve Kirby, Bill Kirchner, Ernie Krivda, Ralph Lalama, Tony Leonardi, Joe Lovano, Charles McPherson, The Glenn Miller Orchestra, Keith Oxman, Tito Puente,  Nelson Rangell, Bobby Shew, Howie Smith, Clark Terry, Frank Tiberi, Roseanna Vitro, The Jim Widner Big Band and Glenn Wilson.

Since 2004, Mr. Stephens has been consistently ranked in the top 10% of University of Illinois professors.  Along with being acknowledged by his students and the university for the exceptional quality of his instruction, performing abilities and overall achievements, Mr. Stephens was one of only four faculty recognized by the Committee on Promotion and Tenure, the Provost and Vice Chancellor in 2008 for his outstanding work.  He maintains a very diverse teaching and performing career at both the national and international levels and has over fifteen years of teaching experience at the university level.  This experience and diversity have proven beneficial to his students who have received national and international recognition for their work.  In 2014, professor Stephens was honored to have been asked by his students to produce an album by the Old Style Sexet, a Uiversity of Illnois student ensemble.  They were selected to perform... of their work.  Ten of Mr. Stephens’ students have been recognized in the Down Beat Student Music Awards and four have won their respective categories.  Several of his students have secured university level teaching positions.


Relevancy-Somewhere Before the End-Track 3


I Will Tell Her-Tenor Madness-Track 1






Jazz Studies


Dig In Buddy.mp3
Apple Honey.mp3
Medley-Up a Lazy-Sweet Georgia Brown-Dig.mp3