Jazz

PART 2 Join Pete Cal­lard as he un­cov­ers some of the great­est licks from the gi­ants of jazz gui­tar. This month, a sec­ond look at Mike Stern...

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

Pete Cal­lard ex­am­ines Mike Stern’s straighter jazz side in this sec­ond in a two-part se­ries.

As i sAid last month i thought it would be il­lu­mi­nat­ing to fo­cus on Mike stern’s more straight-ahead jazz style. Last time we dis­cussed his devel­op­ment as a gui­tarist and the early part of his ca­reer, cul­mi­nat­ing in the re­lease of his first two of­fi­cial solo al­bums, Up­side down­side and Time in Place. The ac­claim of stern’s de­but record­ings as leader led to a steady stream of solo re­leases. His third al­bum, Jig­saw, was re­leased in 1989, fol­lowed by Odds Or Evens in 1991; both saw him fur­ther de­vel­op­ing his dis­tinc­tive an­gu­lar and emo­tive com­po­si­tional style and unique solo voice. The fol­low­ing year he be­came part of the re­formed Brecker Broth­ers band led by sax­o­phon­ist Michael and trum­peter Randy, on the al­bum Re­turn Of The Brecker Broth­ers and the live dVd spher­i­cal. 1992 also saw the re­lease of an ac­claimed al­bum of pri­mar­ily straight-ahead jazz stan­dards (And Other songs), lead­ing to the award of Best Jazz Gui­tarist of the Year from Gui­tar Player mag­a­zine. He fol­lowed this with is What is and Be­tween The Lines in 1994 and 1996, both Grammy nom­i­nees. stern’s 1997 re­lease Give And Take saw a re­turn to straight-ahead jazz, fea­tur­ing sax­o­phon­ists Michael Brecker and david san­born along­side bassist John Patitucci, drum­mer Jack deJohnette and per­cus­sion­ist don Alias, and won him the Orville W Gibson award for Best Jazz Gui­tarist. 1999’s Play teamed stern with jazz gui­tarists Bill Frisell and John Scofield, while Voices (2001) saw him ex­plor­ing world mu­sic, with word­less vo­cals from Richard Bona, Arto Tuncboy­aciyan and Elis­a­beth Kon­tomanou. Af­ter 15 years with At­lantic, 2004’s Th­ese Times saw stern move to EsC records, and again fea­tured Richard Bona along­side guests in­clud­ing sax­o­phon­ist Kenny Gar­rett and banjo vir­tu­oso Bela Fleck. Who Let The Cats Out (2006) saw Stern again move la­bel, this time to Heads Up in­ter­na­tional, and won him an­other Grammy nom­i­na­tion. The fol­low­ing year he was awarded the Miles davis award at the Mon­treal Jazz Fes­ti­val, at which he per­formed on­stage with The Yel­low­jack­ets, an as­so­ci­a­tion that led to 2008’s cel­e­brated Life­cy­cle. Big Neigh­bour­hood (2009) threw up a var­ied list of col­lab­o­ra­tors, in­clud­ing steve Vai, Eric John­son and Medeski, Martin and Wood, and was recorded be­tween New York, Austin and Los An­ge­les. In early 2012 Gui­tar Player awarded Stern their Cer­ti­fied Leg­end Award, with the al­bum All Over The Place fol­low­ing later in the year. Stern’s lat­est record­ing, 2014’s Eclec­tic, sees him again join­ing forces with Eric John­son in a stripped-back small group set­ting, and was recorded pri­mar­ily live in a pe­riod of three days at John­son’s Austin stu­dio.

To­day we con­tinue to ex­am­ine stern’s jazz style and dis­cuss his ap­proaches on popular jazz se­quences. The six ex­am­ples take in long and short ii-V-i ideas, be­bop bridge, rhythm changes and jazz blues se­quences, and fo­cus in on his be­bop vo­cab­u­lary, sub­sti­tu­tions, out­side ideas, intervallic pat­terns and use of mo­tifs. All the ex­am­ples are up­tempo, and fea­ture a tor­rent of amaz­ing and inspiring ideas. stern tends to­wards pick­ing ev­ery note, so the ex­am­ples pro­vide quite a pick­ing hand work­out, and he im­bues ev­ery­thing with an un­der­stated swing and sub­tle dy­nam­ics, ghost­ing some notes and phrases while lightly ac­cent­ing oth­ers to cre­ate real light and shade in his seem­ingly end­less lines. it’s re­ally worth spend­ing some time with th­ese and last month’s ex­am­ples, as be­tween them Mike stern presents a gen­uine mas­ter­class in the art of con­tem­po­rary jazz gui­tar.

NeXT MoNTH: Pete switches his fo­cus to that jazz-blues mas­ter, Robben Ford

I check out a lot of sax and trum­pet play­ers. I try to get some of those ideas on the gui­tar. Mike Stern

Mike Stern: one of the mod­ern jazz greats

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