Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mike Stern All Over The Place Heads Up 2012

To pigeonhole Mike Stern as a modern jazz, fusion, or contemporary guitarist is far too limiting to such a gifted artist whose influences and command of styles are ...well...All Over The Place!

Mike Stern is a searching musician. Stern is an evolving artist and the sonic byproduct of his own experience. The 2009 release Big Neighborhood is a release built on diversity and drawn from a myriad of influences going back to Blood Sweat & Tears in the mid 70's to some work with Miles Davis in the mid 80's and now a stellar solo career that has spanned over 25 years has all gone into All Over The Place! It is no wonder Stern was the recipient of Guitar Player Magazine's Certified Legend Award for 2012. If an eclectic mix of R&B, rock, swing, funk and world music happen to hit your musical sweet spot as they did mine on the 2009 Big Neighborhood on Heads Up then All Over The Place will be right up your alley. Just to drop a few names one can hear Randy Brecker, Kenny Garrett, Esperanza Spalding and Richard Bona and that is just the beginning of what is in store.

The opening tune "AJ" was specifically penned for contrabass guitarist Anthony Jackson. Other guests kicking off this funk infused tune include saxophonist Chris Potter and Stern's wife Lenni on rhythm guitar. Leni Stern who is a magnificent artist in her own right returns for "Out Of The Blue." This time Leni Stern plays the exotic three stringed Malian instrument called a n'goni and the texture created seems to weave its sound like the golden thread of some beautiful tapestry. A world music creation that is adventurous but still highly accessible to those more comfortable with the more western form and functionality of the improvised music we call jazz. One piece that may seem slightly out of place but if you have a working knowledge of the Stern discography then it may seem more familiar is the acoustic piece "You Never Told Me." While Stern is considered by many as the best electric guitarist of our day, the intimate and organic presentation showcases a reflective side not often associated with an artist known for their six string pyrotechnics. The end result of "You Never Told Me" is cinematic in scope while surprisingly subtle. A tune in search of a brilliant feature film. "Halfway Home" is another piece of sonic diversity with Stern's slide guitar prowess on display on this blues nasty as they are juxtapose to Victor Wooten's funk on steroids approach to the bass line.

Stern is on record stating music is a language of the heart. With the release of All Over The Place Stern has gone deep and well past the heart, Stern hung a hard left at the soul and kept going till he found what he needed. The end result is easily the release of the year.

High points are too many to list as this is a virtually flawless presentation. Low points? Seriously?

5 Huge Stars!

Tracks: AJ; Cameroon; Out Of The Blue; As Far As We Know; Blues For Al; OCD; You Never Told Me: Halfway Home; Light; Flipside; All Over The Place.

Personnel: Mike Stern: guitars; Randy Brecker: trumpet; Kenny Garrett: saxophonist; Dave Weckl; Keith Carlock, Lionel Cordew; Basses: Esperanza Spalding, Richard Bona, Victor Wooten, Anthony Jackson, Dave Holland, Tom Kennedy, Will Lee, Victor Bailey; Chris Potter: saxophonist; Jim Beard: keyboards; Leni Stern: rhythm guitar; Tim Keiper: percussionist; Bob Malach: saxophone.