I spoke with Mike Stern a couple of days before show and he expressed some concern that the new ensemble hadn’t been able to rehearse before the upcoming Iridium gig. By the time I was able to catch them on Wednesday, the band’s second night at the Iridium, one could not tell that this group of musicians hadn’t been playing together.
They played a balanced set of Stern originals, rotating between fast tunes and ballads. Most of these songs were from Mike’s 2001 release "Voices." Having seen Mike Stern on many occasions, I knew I was in for vast amounts of blues and jazz guitar lines played at unbelievable tempos with great precision. As usual, Mike delivered. He is adding a lot of volume swells these days, which adds a nice sound to his ballads.
I had previously only heard Terri, Richard and Bob on various jazz recordings. I knew that they were all great musicians, but seeing them live greatly increased my appreciation for their improvisational abilities. Richard Bona’s soloing is simply unbelievable. He can play at blistering speeds, but doesn’t sound cold or technical. He also has an amazing ability to harmonize vocal lines with intricate uptempo melodies on the bass. He simply has to be seen live to be believed. Terri Lyne Carrington is one of the top jazz drummers around. Her playing is very powerful, intricate, and solid. Richard, Terri Lyne and Bob F. deserve much more recognition than they have been given.
This was an evening of wonderful music. It’s so inspiring to see and hear musicians who can come together without much rehearsal and sound like they perform together on a daily basis. I highly recommend that you experience this band as soon as possible.