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These Times

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Album Review

Combine the innovative guitar energy of legendary fusion master Mike Stern with old friends (bassist Richard Bona, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta) and new (saxman Kenny Garrett), and anything is bound to happen. But fans expecting raucous swinging and jamming the whole time may be surprised at the subtle lyricism and exotic explorations that define these times for their hero. Yes, his electric is crackling on the hypnotic opener, "Chatter," but it's in the crazy, exotic context of a Middle Eastern vibe inspired by Pakistani great Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (look out, Eddie Vedder!). Jim Beard's jumpy piano, Colaiuta's wild, New Orleans groove, and Garrett's swirling lines provide great support. Once Stern and company have the listener's attention, they can become seductive with more intimate affairs like the Joe Zawinul-influenced "Silver Lining," which features an exotic falsetto vocal by Bona, a former Zawinul Syndicate member who also propels the tune with his increasingly muscular basslines. Bona adds the same touch in a gentler way to the lush romance of "I Know You," featuring a soft-spoken harmony line by guest star banjo great Béla Fleck. This sequence of tunes sets the tone of the rest of the disc, which mixes more Khan-flavored gems (the colorful singalong "Mirage," featuring vocals by Elisabeth Kontomanou), soft ballads, and a sexy midtempo funk number that (gasp!) might translate to the smooth jazz format. Another highlight is the punchy bebop number "Remember," dedicated to Stern's longtime collaborator the late Bob Berg. Perhaps the only drawback is having Garrett on hand but only featuring him on three numbers.


Born: 10 January 1953 in Boston, MA

Genre: Dance

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Recognized as one of the finest electric guitarists among his peers, Mike Stern was born on January 10, 1953, in Boston, Massachusetts, but grew up in Washington, D.C. before returning to Boston to study at the Berklee School of Music. Stern was only 22 when he joined Blood, Sweat & Tears, for whom he played three years before signing on with Billy Cobham's jazz fusion outfit, which led to Stern's big breakthrough when Miles Davis enlisted him as guitarist for Davis' return from a five-year musical...
Full bio
These Times, Mike Stern
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  • 8,99 €
  • Genres: Jazz, Music, Fusion
  • Released: 13 January 2004

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