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Give & Take by Mike Stern

Jazz guitarist, bebop artist, blues master, ex-miles Davis bandmate. Mike Stern seems to have a lot of things going for him these days, and not to mention an exciting new album. First brought into attention when recruited into the Miles Davis band in the 80s, the ex-blood sweat and tears guitarist has redefined the role of guitar in jazz. Effortlessly blending the fury of John Coltrane's bebop lines and the blues licks in a rock edelic funk sound, he is one of the forerunners in jazz guitar today. And one of the most important thing is that he is one of the few musicians that has managed to get out of the Miles Davis cliche. 'Give and Take' captures the many aspects of Mike Stern's sound. The opening song, 'I love you', a Cole Porter standard, reminds me of his 'standards (and other tunes)', one of my all-time favorite jazz guitar recording. The trio setting locks into a swinging groove with Patitucci on bass and DeJohnette on drums. Did I forget to mention that John Pattituci, Jack DeJohnette, Gil Goldstein, Michael Brecker and David Sanborn plays on this album? A beautiful ballad 'everything changes' is one example of Mike Stern's talent in writing a simple melody that is just captivating. Their take on 'giant steps' shows his mastery of the language of bebop, legacy of John Coltrane. One excerpt of an interview that I remember is, the thing that helped me most was when I was transcribing Coltrane's solos. This influence is one of the most unique aspect of his playing and his treatment of standards as evident here. My first impression after listening to this tune is that mike stern has become an even more mature player in the context of modern jazz, where his solo lines are not just something to fill in the blanks between chords, transcending into something that has a more definite direction to it, more so than when he recorded 'standards (and other tunes)'. Unfortunately, I still find that in some songs, his solos just turn into some excessive display of finger athletics with no clear direction. Like in 'hook up', most of his solo was just endless runs up and down the scales and it was only in the last circle does it turn into something definitive. One of the most interesting tune on this album is 'who knows', from Jimi Hendrix. Listen to how Mike Stern takes this odd choice for a jazz album and turns into an authoritative jazz take with don alias playing great percussion as usual. 'oleo', another bebop standard, rounds up this album, even though his playing is definitely not one the best I've heard on this one. This album also features a lot of the Michael Brecker/Mike Stern duets we've heard in his days with the Brecker brothers and in his older album 'is what it is'. David Sanborn is highly publicized in the advertisement of this album even though he only played in one of the songs.k

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Mike Stern
  • CD Title: Give & Take
  • Genre: Other
  • Year Released: 1997
  • Record Label: Unknown
  • Rating: Four Stars
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