Winner of National Jazz Award in 2000.
In the ’90s Stephen was based in Switzerland performing with his bands SNAG and Face lifter at major festivals and clubs throughout Europe.
During this time in Europe, Stephen was awarded the Swiss Diagonal Arts Grant and the Pop Kredit award with the band SNAG and also received rave reviews for his performances. Stephen spent time studying with Mick Goodrick and Jerry Bergonzi at the New England Conservatory.
Stephen returned to Australia in 2000 to perform and record with his band trio at the Wangaratta Jazz Festival. He was co-winner of the National Jazz Award and began playing again with Julien Wilson in a bass-less trio.
Stephen performs regularly in Melbourne with many ensembles as well as recording and performing his original material with his two bands Face lifter and trio.
Another group that often hovered on the edge of chaos was SNAG, which delighted in setting up crisp musical structures before gleefully tearing them to pieces. Lush, dreamlike textures collide with restless, rock-like grooves, while subtle rhythmic and harmonic displacements kept the players constantly on their toes.
Jessica Nicholas ‘The Age’
The Friday evening performance at the Melbourne International festival by the Magnusson/Wilson Quartet was one of the standouts at the festival. Tenor saxophonist Julien Wilson and Stephen Magnusson are both winners of the National Jazz awards, and have collaborated in their band SNAG. Their current music is exploratory and adventurous, exhibiting an almost telepathic interplay between the co-leaders. If I had to reach for comparisons, I might hark back to Keith Jarrett’s Quartet recordings for Impulse of the early seventies (high praise indeed). There is something of the same tension at work here, with Magnusson’s more European-orientated soundscapes constantly under threat by Wilson’s probing tenor forays. This was music of great complexity, played passionately by musicians who have more than delivered on their early promise.”
Des Cowley ‘Rhythms Magazine’