Mike Stern (Guitar): Big Neighborhood

Audio Samples

>Big Neighborhood
>6th Street
>Reach - (previously unreleased)
>Song For Pepper
>Coupe De Ville
>Bird Blue
>Moroccan Roll
>Long Time Gone
>Check One
>That's All It Is
>Hope You Don't Mind

Track List

>Big Neighborhood
>6th Street
>Reach - (previously unreleased)
>Song For Pepper
>Coupe De Ville
>Bird Blue
>Moroccan Roll
>Long Time Gone
>Check One
>That's All It Is
>Hope You Don't Mind

Album Remarks & Appraisals:

Six-time GRAMMY nominated guitarist Mike Stern's music has always come from a colorful and diverse part of town - a place where numerous artistic styles converge to create a fresh sound that's rooted in jazz but refuses to adhere to rigid borders. Since his earliest recordings, this former bandmate of Miles Davis, Jaco Pastorius, Billy Cobham and other high-profile innovators has grafted elements of rock, blues, soul and more to his solid jazz foundations. On Stern's street, anybody who brings a sense of energy, eclecticism and passion to the craft of music is welcome to play.

With a crew this large and diverse, the idea of the album title should be pretty clear, says Stern. "Music is like a big neighborhood - a place where anything and everything can happen," he explains. "You can find all kinds of things in a big neighborhood - all kinds of different people, all kinds of different ideas and perspectives, and of course, all kinds of different sounds."

"Mike Stern has very few peers among modern musicians in general, and electric guitarists in particular, especially onstage. He's democratic on his new Big Neighborhood CD, which features appearances by a handful of the musicians in his league, including guest guitarists. Yet it's a studio effort, even while featuring some of the same personnel (saxophonist Bob Franceschini, drummer Dave Weckl) that helped fuel Stern's last piece of product, the 2008 live DVD New Morning: The Paris Concert.

As with most of Stern's studio discs, Big Neighborhood simply lacks the unbridled improvisation and interplay of his stage shows. The guests are also so numerous that things feel contrived. The opening title track is essentially a mid-tempo instrumental rocker that finally peaks near its coda through the dueling guitar solos of Stern and Steve Vai. "6th Street" features guitarist Eric Johnson, whose interplay with Stern and organist Jim Beard makes the atmospheric track a highlight. Then comes the chanted vocal portion of the CD on the next four tracks - one with bassist/vocalist Richard Bona, three with singer and bassist Esperanza Spalding. All have their moments, but perhaps could have been placed non-sequentially.

"Moroccan Roll," a Middle Eastern-tinged piece featuring Vai (on sitar guitar), Weckl, Beard and bassist Lincoln Goines, re-energizes the proceedings. Then keyboardist John Medeski, drummer Billy Martin and bassist Chris Wood, best known for the trio bearing their three last names, guest on the disc's banner track. The free-form funk of "Check One," which also features saxophonist Bob Malach, bears similarities to MMW's two recordings with the guitarist who replaced Stern in Miles Davis' band, John Scofield. Perhaps with better sequencing and a solid band, Big Neighborhood (which was recorded in Los Angeles, Austin and New York City depending on the guest personnel) might not seem so all over the place." -JazzTimes

"Like all the legends he ever worked for or with, from Miles Davis to Jaco Pastorius, Billy Cobham to the Brecker Brothers, the five-time Grammy nominee has learned over the course of his 26-year recording career -- 33 since he got his breakthrough gig with Blood, Sweat & Tears -- something about the nuanced art of collaboration. Not only does it take a village to make a great, boundary-stretching jazz recording, the wild excursions on his second Heads Up date seem to be shouting, as it actually involves a whole Big Neighborhood. On this diverse 12-track set, whose styles range from blazing jazz fusion to African-tinged exotica and trippy Middle Eastern journeys, Mike Stern invites a few of his pals back who populated his similarly eclectic 2006 label debut Who Let the Cats Out? Especially significant is the renewed invitation extended to Richard Bona, whose rumbling bass and spirited vocalese bring authenticity to the highly spiritual African vibes of "Reach." Looks like Stern's got a little crush on the brilliant young bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spalding, whose voice, he says, knocks him out. Pairing her with drum great Terri Lyne Carrington isn't just a cool, girl-power endeavor. The two have genuine chemistry with the guitarist; "Song for Pepper" drifts dreamily with Spalding's endearing vocalizations, and "Coupe de Ville" darts and swings playfully as Bob Malach's sax and Stern's strings weave through the rhythmic foundation forged by Spalding and Carrington. Finally, Stern swings the door open to a lot of fresh melodic and improvisational ideas via his jazz-rock cohorts Eric Johnson (playing it cool on the moody, soulful "6th Street") and Steve Vai (wailing like crazy on the searing title track). He goes artsier with "jam band godfathers" Medeski, Martin & Wood, who help spin a wild blues-rock web on "Check One" and cool to a simmer on the more pop/rock-oriented "Check One." There's also an appearance by Stern's old friend, Randy Brecker. This is one block party jazz fusion fans won't want to miss in 2009 - Jonathan Widran, Rovi(AllMusic)

Album Reviews:

Down Beat (p.60) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "Medeski Martin and Wood drive the retro soul-funk grooves hard on 'That's All It Is' and anchor the stair-stepping slow jam of 'Check One.'"

JazzTimes (p.66) - "'6th Street' features guitarist Eric Johnson, whose interplay with Stern and organist Jim Beard makes the atmospheric track a highlight."

Record Collector (magazine) (p.110) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "Stern demonstrates his eclecticism, blending both pop and prog-influenced jazz with funk, bluesy rock...[and] African flavours..."

Album Notes

Personnel: Mike Stern (guitar); Richard Bona, Esperanza Spalding (vocals, bass guitar); Eric Johnson , Steve Vai (guitar); Bob Franceschini, Bob Malach (saxophone); Randy Brecker (trumpet); Jim Beard (piano, Hammond b-3 organ, keyboards); John Medeski (Wurlitzer piano, Clavinet, Hammond b-3 organ); Chris Wood (electric bass); Chris Minh Doky, Lincoln Goines (bass guitar); Cindy Blackman, Dave Weckl, Terri Lyne Carrington, Billy Martin, Lionel Cordew (drums).

Audio Mixer: Phil Magnotti.

Liner Note Author: Bill Milkowski.

Like all the legends he ever worked for or with--from Miles Davis to Jaco Pastorius, Billy Cobham to the Brecker Brothers--this five-time Grammy nominee has learned over the course of his 26-year recording career something about the nuanced art of collaboration. Not only does it take a village to make a great, boundary-stretching jazz recording, the wild excursions on his second Heads Up date seem to be shouting, as it actually involves a whole BIG NEIGHBORHOOD. On this diverse 12-track set, whose styles range from blazing jazz fusion to African-tinged exotica and trippy Middle Eastern journeys, Mike Stern invites a few of his pals back who populated his similarly eclectic 2006 label debut WHO LET THE CATS OUT? Especially significant is the renewed invitation extended to Richard Bona, whose rumbling bass and spirited vocalese bring authenticity to the highly spiritual African vibes of "Reach." Pairing the brilliant young bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spalding with drum great Terri Lyne Carrington isn't just a cool, girl-power endeavor; the two have genuine chemistry with the guitarist--"Song for Pepper" drifts dreamily with Spalding's endearing vocalizations, and "Coupe de Ville" swings playfully as Bob Malach's sax and Stern's strings weave through the rhythmic foundation forged by Spalding and Carrington. Finally, Stern swings the door open to a lot of fresh melodic and improvisational ideas via his jazz-rock cohorts Eric Johnson (playing it cool on the moody, soulful "6th Street") and Steve Vai (wailing like crazy on the searing title track). He goes artsier with "jam band godfathers" Medeski, Martin & Wood, who help spin a wild blues-rock web on "Check One" and cool to a simmer on the more pop/rock-oriented "Check One." There's also an appearance by Stern's old friend, Randy Brecker. This is one block party jazz fusion fans won't want to miss in 2009!



Reviews

There are currently no reviews, be the first one!
Login or Create an Account to write a review
 

Also Purchased



Previous


Next


See Also

There are no recommendations posted for this product