John Stein – Lifeline – For many years, the remarkable guitarist John Stein has enjoyed high prestige and respect among colleagues and jazz lovers. According to his creative interests, Stein is revered as the direct heir of Wes Montgomery, Jim Hall, Kenny Burrell and Grant Green. For many years, Stein has been closely associated with the renowned New Bedford, Massachusetts-based independent label Whaling City Sound, where his work is published. Due to this fact, almost all of them have been reviewed on our website. Recently, John suffered a serious illness and only now gradually began to recover, returned home from the hospital, but still cannot play his favorite instrument, which he has not parted with since the age of seven. This prompted John, along with the Whaling City Sound team, to create a kind of anthology of his work over the past twenty years. This idea took shape in the form of a large album of two discs (only two and a half hours of sound), for which Stein selected his most significant recordings of different years. The album is called Lifeline and will be released on Whaling City Sound on June 17th.
If you have never heard the music of John Stein before, then Lifeline will give you the opportunity to get to know this guitarist and composer, to appreciate his skill in playing in a variety of formats – after all, the recordings for the album are taken from different albums, where John played with different partners: from Green Street (1999) to Serendipity (2021). There were a lot of them, and among them there are many high-class jazzmen, which gives the album additional interest. So, the first disc opens with the piece Up and at ‘em, where Stein’s main partner in the quartet is the famous saxophonist David Fathead Newman. And already in the second track of Brazilian Hug, it will become clear to you how much Stein loves Brazilian music. This love was born when John was in the 7th grade, and the family first purchased a stereo player, and one of the first discs in the home collection was the album by Stan Getz and João Gilberto. Since then, both swing and bossa nova have become Stein’s guiding stars in music.
There will be many more “Brazilian” pieces in the album, as well as first-class Brazilian musicians, such as percussionist Ze Eduardo Nazario or flutist Fernando Brandao. I will also pay attention to the piece Moonlight in Vermont, where Larry Gouldings’ piano dialogues with Stein’s guitar, as well as the classical standard On Green Dolphin Street, an example of Stein’s deep understanding of the jazz tradition. But Stein is no stranger to music of a completely different kind – listen, for example, to Stanley Turentine’s almost funky version of Sugar or the author’s lyric composition Ira’s Tango, which John dedicated to his father. Literally every one of the twenty-six tracks on the album deserves a mention, but instead of listing them all, I’ll end this text with an aphoristic comment from Whaling City Sound President Neal Weiss: “CDs often take on a life of their own. This album gives a real sense of the vast amount of quality music John has created and released over the last twenty plus years. It’s a great overview of his journey in music and also a top notch collection, so fire up the player, sit back and listen.”


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