[JPL] MIKE STERN in NYTimes...

r durfee rdurfee2003 at yahoo.com
Mon Aug 14 16:29:12 EDT 2006

“Who Let the Cats Out?” 
(Heads Up)
  The guitarist Mike Stern chases an elusive kind of modern fusion: hard-hitting yet nimble, precise but not technique-obsessed. At its best it’s a style that combines boplike ensemble flexibility with the ruggedness of classic rock. At its worst there’s a sense of wheels spinning without touching the road. 
  Mr. Stern’s new album does suffer a few lapses in judgment; the title may be the most obvious. But it manages not to feel aimless, partly because of Mr. Stern’s songs, which are effectively compact. It also has something to do with a roster of musicians that includes both longtime collaborators like the keyboardist and producer Jim Beard, and strong young talent like the drummer Kim Thompson.
  Some of the most refreshing work is by a pair of special guests: Roy Hargrove, in a trumpet solo over a ferocious vamp in “KT,” and Richard Bona, with multi-tracked falsetto vocals on “Language” and “All You Need.” Mr. Bona also joins an impressive list of electric bassists on the album, like Meshell Ndegeocello and Anthony Jackson. 
  Mr. Stern processes his guitar with varying degrees of chorus effect and distortion, and his solos often involve steadily mounting crescendos. For the full intensity of his style, you’ll have to look to his live performances: at the 55 Bar in the West Village, for instance, most Monday and Wednesday nights. What he delivers here is a focused sampling that centers the album, without always having to be at its center. NATE CHINEN

Roy Durfee
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