Click above image for full review by Marc Myers.
LABEL: Whaling City Sound
Publicity: Lifeline: Midwest Record
Color Tones: All about Jazz, Jazz Quad, O’s Place Jazz Newsletter,Contemporary Fusion Reviews, Midwest Record, Kansas City Jazz Ambassadors Magazine, Los Angeles Jazz Scene, Midwest Record, Jazz Quad, Lydia’s Lifeline
Emotion: Kansas City Jazz Ambassadors Magazine, Jazz Inside Magazine, Just Jazz Guitar Magazine, improvijazzation Nation, Jazz Talk (TV), Amazon, jazzquad.ru, Chip Boaz, Jazzwax, Boston Globe, Midwest Records, Jazz Weekly, Jazz Station Desouteiro Blog, Improvijazzation Nation, Jazz Ambassador Magazine (April/May 2013), SmoothJazz.com Global Radio, DownBeat Magazine (July/Guitar issue), JazzQuad, Just Jazz Guitar (May issue), Buffalo News, Yahoo!, Midwest Record, PR Web, KCTV, Guys Stuff, StrategyEye, Berklee Ltd News/One Source, New Bedford News, Silo Breaker, PR Finder, Front Row King, Amazon.com, The Herald News, Kansas City Jazz Ambassadors,O’s Place Jazz Magazine, Southcoasttoday.com, JAZZofilio, Zzaj Productions, 24-7 Press Release, the-borderland.co.uk, nestor, mwe3.com, chuo FM 89.1, jazzflits, Midwest Record, Midwest Book Review, Jazz Society of Oregon, My Favorite Things, All About Jazz, Guitar International, Come Out and Join the Stars at Aha! Tonight, Boston Globe, Latin Jazz Corner, FretBoard Journal
Radio Promotion: New World N Jazz
Featured Track “On Green Dolphin Street” on SoundCloud
Listen WCS Wood and Strings “Up and At ‘Em” on SoundCloud
Like many serious musicians, John Stein was trying to find a way to reach his audience following the Covid-19 breakout. He had just released Watershed, a career-defining recording to mark his planned retirement from Berklee College of Music, where he was an acclaimed educator. Of course, as with live music in general, the tour in support of Watershed was scrapped. Prior to the pandemic, Whaling City Sound’s Neal Weiss had asked Stein to bring a trio for an outdoor September show he had booked in New Bedford. But when hell broke loose, Neal moved the show inside, to the New Bedford Art Museum, and made plans to broadcast it virtually, as well as record the audio and video. “Thanks to Neal’s ability to see other possibilities,” recalls Stein, “it would be the only public concert I played the entire year.”
Stein’s trio for the date, Ed Lucie on bass and Mike Connors on drums, played as they normally would in front of a packed house. The session was live. There were no second takes, no overdubs, no corrections. They simply played each tune and then moved on. It succeeded as a video, of course, because of the trio’s remarkable chemistry. The set was stellar. But that wasn’t all. “Weeks after the show,” Stein recalls, “I had some tasks to do around the house and I let the video run in the background. For the first time, I experienced the soundtrack as pure music without the distraction of the visuals.” Stein heard subtle but extraordinary details that he hadn’t noticed before. “I became aware of the superb musicianship. At that moment, I realized that the audio itself was worthy of release.”
Serendipity is that release. It is the document of that gig, played for an audience of one, John Farrell, who taped and edited the video. Farrell, as it turns out, is also a professional sound engineer. He captured the audio and skillfully did the mixing. It’s obvious that the session, originally assembled as a way to let the music play, was an enormous creative success. From the opener, a take on Sonny Rollins’ “Alfie’s Theme,” to the closing, upbeat “Happy Hour,” a Stein original, the recording is a pure celebration of bristling energy and subtle, intuitive performances.
While the pandemic may have stifled our collective musical voice, it also yielded beautiful and unexpected moments from musicians that simply wouldn’t be denied. Count the aptly titled Serendipity as one of those moments. When hope for live music had temporarily faded, one trio decided they simply had to do what great musicians were compelled to do. Serendipity is the sound of happiness unleashed, as captured by musicians destined to play.
The 42nd Annual Jazz Station Awards / The Best Jazz of 2020
42ª Edição do Prêmio Jazz Station! Os melhores do jazz em…
Two more awards that I did not originally notice from Arnaldo DeSouteiro:
2. Paulo Aredes…
ICYMI: John Stein with Ed Lucie and Mike Conners perform for #VAHA New Bedford’s Centre Street Sessions
Guitarist and composer John Stein returns to New Bedford as the featured artist for September’s virtual AHA night (VAHA) with Ed Lucie on electric bass and Mike Connors on drums. Recorded earlier at the New Bedford Art Museum (NBAM/Artworks), the two 45 minute sets will stream from the VAHA webpage and thereafter at AHA New Bedford’s Facebook page beginning at 5:30 and 7:15 on the evening of Sept. 10.
John Stein just retired from 36 years on the faculty of Berklee College in Boston, and his most recent CD, Watershed, was on the JazzWeek national radio chart for a record 28 weeks, including several weeks in the top 10 and peaking at #2.
For over 20 years, the city of New Bedford, MA has celebrated the second Thursday of every month as AHA (Art, History, Architecture) Night, and provided many events in the downtown area, including special activities for children, and always for no charge.
Centre Street Sessions usually take place in the Summer months of June through September outside, in the parking lot of Fiber Optic Center, in the heart of the Historic District and within the Whaling Heritage Historical National Park. Sponsored by AHA, Fiber Optic Center and Whaling City Sound these concerts have showcased many performers and enabled people to enjoy world-class music in a relaxed, informal, and acoustically comfortable setting.
Review by Chris Spector
“The first-class jazz guitarist is newly retired and will no longer be hiding his light in the groves of academe. With a load of albums already to his credit, this set finds him using his newly gained freedom to push his crew to go balls to the wall making this Brazilian flavored set anything but a set of swaying sambas for tourists. Putting the groove front and center in these proceedings, you can expect every guitarist comparison to be thrown his way in short order and he’s more than up for the comparisons. Sizzling and tasty, this is a jazz guitar treat and then some.”
Listen WCS 089 Color Tones “The Commons” on SoundCloud
4/14 John Stein Live at WGBH Boston’s Fraser Performance Studio
Join us April 14 to hear guitarist John Stein perform songs from his new CD, Color Tones. Tickets for this special event are only $10 for WGBH members and $15 for non-members.
Internationally renowned, Stein was born and raised in Kansas City, Mo., where he took up his instrument at an early age. His talent for and love of music ultimately earned him a faculty position at Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he is a professor in the harmony department. Stein has performed as a leader or a sideman with some of the world’s finest jazz acts, and his compositions and performances cover the spectrum of jazz styles.
Order your tickets now for this one-of-a-kind event on April 14 at 7pm in the Fraser Performance Studio of WGBH at One Guest Street in Brighton, Mass.
Questions? email@example.com or 617-300-5400
Acclaimed guitarist John Stein expands his already impressive sonic palette on this new recording, Color Tones. The album, created with his ever-intriguing core rhythm section—masterful drummer Zé Eduardo Nazario and renowned bassist John Lockwood—also adds the voices of two mature and unique soloists, Fernando Brandão on flutes and Phil Grenadier on trumpets and mutes. Songs like the concise “Neck Road” provide an example of how this collective functions, featuring all five instrumentalists intertwining in spontaneous interplay: the musical conversation is respectful, energetic, and bristling. All of Stein’s accompanists here expertly carve out their territory. Stein is a generous bandleader. Every musician is featured extensively, and they complement each other tastily, adding their personal expression to the overall fabric.
Stein’s compositions provide the necessary structure without inhibiting the musicians’ ability to add their individual voices to the group effort, allowing all parties to color in the details of those structures artfully. In addition to the arranging ideas contributed by the composer and the players, three of the songs are arranged by Adi Yeshaya, which adds immeasurably to the sonic variety of this recording. Though the acoustic format feels traditional on the surface, there are surprises hiding underneath. This is music of depth and subtlety. In fact, Color Tones is a true delight and a Triple Threat: excellent compositions, sublime arrangements, and enthralling musicianship. Isn’t that all we hope to receive when we listen to a jazz recording?
CD Title: Color Tones
John Stein; guitar
Phil Grenadier; trumpet, flugelhorn, mutes . . .
Fernando Brandão; flute, alto flute, bass flute
John Lockwood; acoustic bass
Zé Eduardo Nazario; drums
The Commons 4:52
New Shoes 4:29
Five Weeks 6:03
Neck Road 3:39
Ebb and Flow •• 5:48
Four Corners 4:40
Wall Stones •• 5:43
Salt Marsh Dawn •• 4:41
Labor of Love5:52
Total: 57 minutes
All tunes composed by John Stein, JS Jazz, BMI, except:
Angel Eyes, music by Matt Dennis, lyrics by Earl Brent, Dorsey Bros Music a Div. of Music Sales Corp (ASCAP) 1946 (Renewed)
All tunes arranged by the band except
- Ebb and Flow,Wall Stones,Salt Marsh Dawn, arranged by Adi Yeshaya.
Recorded, Mixed, Mastered by Peter Kontrimas, PBS
Recording Dates: March 19, 20, 2016
Digital Master prepared by Antonio Oliart: October 13, 2016
Produced by John Stein
Executive Producer: Neal Weiss
Art Direction: Dave Arruda
Liner Notes: John Thomas
Cover Painting (detail): Joseph Edwards Alexander
Musician Photos: Ed Dillon, Kenny Hyde
Liner Notes by John Thomas:
Bold. Generous. Gracious. Authoritative. Humble. Profound. Confident. Eloquent. Audacious.
Pick your modest, but superlative of adjectives. Your word choice must convey an extraordinary artistic vision and commitment to art’s execution, but simultaneously express a selfless devotion to art’s outcome. Think brilliant but modest, highly artistic but approachable, limitless but bordered, harmonically complex but hummably melodic, theoretical but grounded, a leader who happily follows.
Think John Stein.
John Stein is a musician’s guitarist. You’ll not hear him play a note that does not serve the musical context. His playing will challenge, surprise, and push in new directions, but all in service to the performance and composition at hand. He plays music first and guitar second. As a player, he’s, well, bold, generous, gracious, authoritative, humble, profound, confident, eloquent, and audacious.
As this collection reveals, John, who composed all but one tune here, is also a musician’s composer. The tunes are challenging yet melodic, adventuresome yet familiar. John has provided his co-artists with sparingly ornamented, but not blank canvases. He’s placed an enigmatic smile, a couple swirling stars in the night sky, or an angular sketch that hints at a woman descending a staircase inside his musical frames. The musicians, utilizing the palette John has supplied, complete the sonic landscapes, adding depth, perspective, and character. With the composer leading the way with nimble, subtle guitar figures, the result is communal art in which all participants have room to express themselves through thoughtful improvisation. While a politician would be loath to embrace the concept of leading from behind, John happily does so on a number of cuts here. He also leads from in front, but usually from the center. He places himself where he best serves the collaborative.
Inspired vision mated with exceptional artistic footings, though, only guarantees great collaborative art if the leader chooses collaborators wisely. John has chosen wisely here. Drummer Zé Eduardo Nazario is John’s principal co-conspirator on this project, as he has been on many others. The two have collaborated on nearly all of John’s albums since meeting at the 2005 sessions in São Palo, Brazil that resulted in John’s album, Concerto Internacional de Jazz. On this, as on other efforts, Nazario worked with John in developing the rhythmic conception of each tune. The magnificence of Nazario’s interplay with the leader is testament both to those conceptions and to the shared history of these artists.
Happily, Nazario’s compatriot in rhythm here, bassist John Lockwood, also has a long history of working with John Stein. An omnipresence on the Boston jazz scene who is at home playing everything from Dixieland to microtonal music, he’s a musician who’s always completely in the moment. Whether sitting deep in the pocket or dancing along a tightrope strung tightly over it, Lockwood is the perfect complement to John Stein’s compositional sketches, providing foundation, but also reacting to the changing musical terrain introduced by the other musicians who’ve been given the liberty of uncluttered musical canvases.
Like Lockwood, trumpeter Phil Grenadier, is ubiquitous in the Boston jazz scene. He puts his wide-ranging experience to immediate and obviously good use here by bringing something different to every performance. Consider, for example, the counterpoint lines he plays in New Shoes and the silky opening he provides in The Commons. And, pull yourself out of the reverie into which you’ll most certainly sink while listening to his hypnotic solo unfold in Five Weeks to pay particular attention to the tone of his playing. Yes, you’ve never heard a trumpet sound like that. In his quest to add to the sonic palette of this set, Grenadier somehow fused a Harmon® trumpet mute with a plunger to produce that mysterious yet majestic timbre.
But for the leader, Fernando Brandão on flutes may be the stand-out soloist here. Playing concert, alto, and bass flutes, he adds a trio of colors to the palette. His taste and style shine on contributions that range from his feverish interplay with John and Grenadier on Neck Road to his pensive solo on Ebb and Flow and to the gorgeous unwinding of his melodic statement that opens Jo Ann. Throughout, Brandão provides counterpoint, instrumental color and discord, enlivening and enriching the mix.
Eight of these tunes feature group arrangements in which, after John and drummer Nazario established the rhythmic conception, each player added his own lines to form a communal sketch from which these performances spring. Adding one more brush to his artist’s quiver, John recruited Adi Yeshaya to arrange Ebb and Flow, Wall Stones, and Salt Marsh Dawn. Yeshaya added intricate textures to the canvases he touched. Consider this set’s modal offering, Wall Stones. John included what might have been a harmonically similar Aeolian tune, Elvin!, on his 2010 album Raising the Roof. As John puts it, Yeshaya gives Wall Stones a lighter, airier, more delicate “feel.”
But, enough talk. Let’s step into the art. Consider the opening cut, The Commons, where John initiates this journey by leading from behind. John opens the tune by playing a simple, staccato chordal figure, accompanied only by Nazario on drums. Lockwood falls in on bass before Grenadier states the melody on trumpet, and then yields to Brandão on flute. John establishes a contemplative, yet lively scene that inspires his collaborators to begin filling in detail. It’s not until halfway through the tune that our leader steps to the fore to offer a fluid, thoughtful solo that melds with rather than displaces those accompanying. This is collaboration in its finest form. Not only do all participants share the spotlight, they all contribute to creating the very energy that illuminates this work.
John can also achieve this unity of vision and its execution when leading from the front. Consider New Shoes. Nazario kicks the tune off, Grenadier and Brandão play the head, and then John spins an inventive, mesmerizing solo. Again, John melds with this musical community he has assembled, rather than dominating it. The whole here really is greater than the sum of its parts. Catalyzed by John’s compositions, arrangements, and performances, the musicians add layers to the canvases, but take care not to cover the others’ contributions and not to make the art unappealingly dense. The performances here are light and airy; the music is profound, yet enjoyable.
Finally, let’s look at this work from the inside out. In Labor of Love, John, as he does most often here, leads from the center. The form of the tune is AABA. John states the first two A section melodies alone and Grenadier and Brandão play the B section. When John returns to play the final A section, he’s accompanied by Grenadier’s legato trumpet line. The musicians support and challenge one another, and reward the listener with a clear and concise work of art whose components interlock without overlapping. The musicians augment John’s sketches without obscuring them.
Throughout this stunning set, you’ll find John Stein as composer, arranger, and guitarist working from the place that best serves the music. As always, he’s bold, generous, gracious, authoritative, humble, profound, confident, eloquent, and audacious.
Current book project: Solitide, Struggle & Violence
Recent book: Kalamazoo Gals
Field Editor, Fretboard Journal
Watch for Wood and Strings release April 28 2017
1. I Remember You Mercer, Schertzinger
2. Modinha De Moraes, Jobim Corcovado Music Corp
3. Up and at ‘Em John Stein
4. Out of Nowhere Green, Harris, Heyman
5. Switch-A-Rio John Stein
6. Sarlat John Stein
7. Labor of Love John Stein
8. Estaté Brighetti, Martino
9. Song For Now Dave Zinno
10. But Beautiful Burke, Van Heusen
11. Beatrice Sam Rivers
12. Birk’s Works John Birks Gillespie
13. Till There Was You Meredith Willson
14. When Lights Are Low Carter, Williams
KANSAS CITY JAZZ AMBASSADORS MAGAZINE
Emotion, John Stein’s latest recording on the Whaling City Sound label, finds the capable guitarist doing the tango with flute and accordion in an exotic musical adventure known as “The Mingotan Project.” I know it’s not supposed to make that big of a difference regarding the actual musical content, but the packaging of this album is just beautiful, with silky blood-‐red shadow images of a tango couple against stark black backdrop—it’s fabulous and perfectively captures the mood of the music. It feels like Argentina. When the surname of Mingote and musical genre of tango get smooshed together, naturally you get Mingotan! Indeed, there is a rich tradition of fusing jazz and Latin styles to create a product that is, almost always, greater than the sum of its parts.
Stein is no stranger to the music of Latin American music, as his past forays into the rich culture and musical genre go back as recently as his 2006 Whaling City release, with an entire Brazilian band on the album Concerto International de Jazz. While John Stein serves as humble host of this latest celebrated affair, the center of attention is drummer is Matias Mingote German, for whom the project is subtitled. Solid bassist John Lockwood is a mainstay of Stein, whose contribution to the last couple of CDs aptly demonstrate why the two Johns remain paired for this newest venture. Flautist Rebecca Kleinmann and Evan Harlan on accordion complete the lineup. The band’s roster of players came somewhat as a surprise to Stein himself: “While the traditional Argentinian tango band uses a bandonion player, the instrumentation I chose—well, I would have never thought to record with an accordion player!” Sonically speaking, recording engineer Peter Kontrimas does a fine job capturing the sweet, dark pungent aromas of Afro-‐Argentinian roots.
“Julieta” is a rollicking Afro-‐Argentinian groove that has a simple minor-‐key melody and chord progressions that seems like it rolls happily and steeply down hill, picking up steam as it goes along, with a bubbling burst of bebop guitar solo from Stein, followed by a flying flute solo from Rebecca. Harlan on accordion and Mingo’s tom-‐ driven drum solo complete the cycle as they round the corner and return to the final head.
Things get cooled off instantly with the tranquil tango, “Empanadas,” a tune that captures one of the best guitar tones of Stein on any album I have heard of his. The single lines sound so round and robust that it almost matches the darkness of the accordion tones, while his accompaniment is sparse-‐yet-‐thick, like that of Jim Hall.
“I Thought About You” is delivered with a medium-‐uptempo perkiness and bounce that sounds more fun than the typical ballad or medium swing rendition one might have expected when this tune comes to mind. Kleinmann’s flute swirls and swaps with Stein as both wind their way through the melody and diving right into wispy solos—the entire band taking their turns at navigating the waters. “It’s a really cool thing to do to treat the standard in a different way, with something authentically blended with both Brazilian and Argentinian flavor,” says Stein.
“Recoleta” is an introspective, smoldering minor-‐key bolero that has a simple yet elegant melody that again conjures up sonic images of the great jazz guitarist Jim Hall and the flavorful dish he served on his April 1975 CTI recording of Concierto de Aranjuez. Indeed, the elegant and relaxed tempo of Stein’s lead melody is immediately followed by Rebecca’s floating flute solo that wafts effortlessly across the earlobes. The introspective accordion from Evan Harlan puts the finishing touch on what might be the perfect encapsulation of what wandering down winding streets arm-‐in-‐arm with a beautiful woman at midnight on the streets of Buenos Aires sounds like.
“Oblivion” is present on this album out of sheer respect and acknowledgment for the legend, Astor Piazzola. It is a classic tune—as is the man; everybody who knows tango music knowshim—he pioneered nuevo tango, and thereby started the jazz-‐ influenced tango style. John doesn’t even solo on this tune; more importantly, is the fact his comping style is what actually holds the tune together—something of which he is extremely proud.
“Biei” (enunciated literally “B. A.” –the initials for Buenos Aires) another smoldering Argentine tango that uses the flute as the lead melodic statement, while the accordion takes the bridge that has a brief yet slightly elusive progression. The song form is challenging enough that it easily maintains interest for both listener and soloists alike, who each take a shot at taming the meandering harmonic structure that awaits them.
“Have You Met Mrs. Jones,” like “I Thought About You,” is another North American standard that gets a new facelift—an medium uptempo samba that pushes forward with the unexpected Latin groove set against the standard A-‐A-‐B-‐A form that all jazzers know and love. And, in due course, the guitar, flute and—surprise— drums!—gets to take a ride on this one when solo time comes around, since the familiar set of chord changes yields a relatively short form in this samba format.
“Ira’s Tango” is dedicated to Stein’s dad who recently passed away right before the album was recorded—and the passion with which John offers his solemn paean is felt deeply in this tune. “This one has the emotional meaning for me,” he said. The thoughtfully delivered flute/guitar melody, along with the sensitive flute, accordion and guitar solos that follow, nobly represent John’s ultimate tribute to his beloved father.
“Stepping Stones” was recorded as a typical jazz quartet with legendary tenor saxman Fathead Newman on 2001 Conversation Pieces (Jardis label). “I hadn’t played this tune in a long time,” John recalled gleefully. “But the band members— particularly the accordion player—really took to it, so we did it!” The swinging results speak for itself—clearly the band had fun wailing on this one.
“Le Causse Du Quercy” is a sassy flute/guitar duel melody that was written while Stein was hanging out in the western region of France (the title, as it turns out, is the
name of the house he lived at. As the tune boasts a Brazilian samba feel, John leads the way with improvisation that is more intuitive than flashy, which is exactly what the tune calls for. This notion seems to have had influence the melodic and harmonic approach for the other bandmates as Evans follows suit, as does the flute solo by Kleinnman who has the final say.
In the end, the entire project proves to be a satisfying listening experience for artists and audiences. With regard to capturing the raw essence of the session, Stein says he didn’t change a single note on the tracks, which is rare for him—no editing or overdubbing occurred. “I was just trying to get inside the music, not to try to impress anybody, just play the most appropriate thing for that song” The entire album, John says, contains “the most melodic phrasing I have ever done; it’s extremely satisfying—the most musical I have ever created.” Well, alright!
“My pleasure…please tell John that it’s a drop-dead gorgeous album and I’m so glad I was able to share with 7,000 JW readers. Please keep me posted on John’s amazing march upward.” Marc Meyers, Jazz Wax
Joe Potenza – bass
Michael Connors – drums
Richard Hundley – piano, keyboards
Bing Bang Boom!
Through the release of Bing Bang Boom!, John Stein offers cultivated music that is the result of many years of experience as a guitarist, arranger, composer, educator, and author. The album includes ten numbers and the sterling musical line-up is a quartet led by John Stein on guitar. Taking part are keyboard spokesman Jake Sherman, John Lockwood on acoustic bass, and Brazilian drummer Zé Eduardo Nazario.
The atmosphere for the opener Sugar, by Stanley Turrentine, is created by means of an urban hip-hop rhythm, and it features alluring guitar and organ solos. The next tune is the Brazilian flavored Menina, by John Stein. The rhythmic underpinnings for both tunes are built by drummer Zé Eduardo Nazario with great skill.
The title track, Bing Bang Boom! is drenched in soul-jazz, and John provides bluesy guitar and Jake wails on the organ. Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love – Chelsea Bridge is a sweet ballad medley drawn from the pens of Charles Mingus and Billy Strayhorn, with a bossa nova treatment that adds a cool breeze.
John and colleagues then accelerate the tempo in Lover, a jazz standard penned by Lorenz Hart and Richard Rodgers. A wonderful bass recitative provides an introduction toThe Song of Delilah, with a chiming vintage Rhodes solo by Jake and melodic guitar by John. Next is the swinging Waiting for Woody, and finally, the album finishes with a beautiful number composed by Cole Porter, You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To.
The music is presented in a confident manner, and the tracks emphasize melodic phrasing with clear and beautiful playing.
Stein Leads the Way
“Bing Bang Boom!” CD Release Shows Scheduled
Boston, New Bedford, MA
May 15, 2013: 8PM
Scullers Jazz Club
400 Soldiers Field Road, Boston, MA 02134
For tickets and information: 617.562.4111/Email: Info@ScullersJazz.com
May 17, 2013: 8PM
427 County St, New Bedford, MA 02740
$20 advance, $25 at the door
YWCA 20 S. Sixth St, New Bedford: 508-999-3255
or Whaling City Sound: 508-992-6613
hi-res cover art link>https://mixedmediapromo.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/wcs062.jpeg
John Stein jpg link>https://mixedmediapromo.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/Photo-2.jpg
*John Stein (click to link to his Mixed Media client page), guitar
* John Lockwood, bass
* Matias Mingote German, drums
* Evan Harlan, accordion
* Rebecca Kleinmann, flute
Stein Leads the Way
Guitarist and Quartet Up Their Game on the vibrant new Bing Bang Boom!
From the hip-hopping groove of “Sugar,” the first track on John Stein’s newest work, to the swinging jazz waltz of the Cole Porter track that ends the album, Bing Bang Boom! is as complete and satisfying an album as Stein has yet recorded. Why is this? It can be explained in several ways. First, Stein has given himself ample time to gel with his terrific band. Bing Bang Boom! is the fourth release in Stein’s quartet series and it is rare these days for a band-leader to have this luxury. The time he has spent recording with his collaborators really pays off. The fluid and spontaneous interplay among virtuosic musicians results in a wonderful recording, and allows Stein to really settle into a creative pocket and cultivate the fluid, adventurous sounds of his guitar.
Given such familiar and comforting surroundings, Stein can experiment. Songs that are accustomed to sounding one way, arrive very differently in the hands of Stein and company. Hip-hopping “Sugar,” for example, doesn’t reflect the original Turrentine shuffle; “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To” is treated as a fast waltz; “Delilah” appears as a Brazilian maracatu; “Lover” moves back and forth between a Brazilian Afoché rhythm and fast swing.
Stein also proposes strong compositional vehicles for his band-mates, with half of the material on the recording penned by him. The tunes cover the terrain of modern jazz: from the bluesy jazz-rock of the title tune through forays in samba, swing, and modal jazz.
In fact, Stein uses his quartet as an elastic boundary. Stein allows the musicians he plays with generous opportunities to stretch out on their own; the piano on “Chelsea Bridge,” for example, gives a youthful spirit to the recordings. The bass solo on Stein’s own “Unraveled Plans” (a fittingly titled cut!), and the bass intro on “Delilah” are melodious sounds to behold.
Bing Bang Boom! is the fourth album from Stein’s quartet and it validates the journey and gives a fine indication of what’s to come. Once a band-leader allows for consistency and growth across this amount of time, the dividends are surely going to pay off. Kudos to Stein and his band for hanging with it long enough to record the brilliant Bing, Bang, Boom!, and to Whaling City Sound, the record label, (now distributed by Naxos of America), for nurturing the organic unfolding artistic process of four brilliant musicians.
Peaked at #23 JazzWeek: http://www.jazzweek.com/charts/1368460800/may-13-2013/
John Stein, “Bing Bang Boom” (Whaling City Sound). Music by Stanley Turrentine, Charles Mingus, Billy Strayhorn, Rodgers and Hart, Victor Young and Cole Porter performed by a multigenerational quartet of rhythm section plus the leader’s guitar (with young member Jake Sherman on Hammond B-3 organ, acoustic piano and Fender Rhodes piano). Drummer Ze Eduardo Nazario is from Brazil and, according to Bob Blumenthal’s notes, has played with Hermeto Pascoal and Egberto Gismonti. Turrentine’s “Sugar” says Blumenthal, hip-hops rather than shuffles but you can hear New Orleans second-line rhythms in it too. Stein … can play traditionally without ever foundering in clichés. ∆∆∆ (Jeff Simon, Buffalo News)
Stein Leads the Way to NAXOS for WCS with “Bing Bang Boom!”
From the hip-hopping groove of “Sugar,” the first track on John Stein’s newest work, to the swinging jazz waltz of the Cole Porter track that ends the album, Bing Bang Boom! is as complete and satisfying an album as Stein has yet recorded.
Why is this? It can be explained in several ways. First, Stein has given himself ample time to gel with his terrific band. Bing Bang Boom! is the fourth release in Stein’s quartet series and it is rare these days for a bandleader to have this luxury. The time he has spent recording with his collaborators really pays off. Brazilian drummer Zé Eduardo Nazario, Berklee ingenue, keyboardist Jake Sherman, and acoustic bassist John Lockwood, one of the finest on the instrument in the entire Northeast, allow Stein to really settle into a creative pocket and cultivate the fluid and adventurous sounds coming from his guitar.
Given such familiar and comforting surroundings, Stein can experiment. Songs that are accustomed to sounding one way, arrive very differently in the hands of Stein and company. “Sugar,” for example, doesn’t reflect the original Turrentine shuffle, “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To” is treated as a fast waltz, “Delilah” appears as a Brazilian maracatu, “Lover” moves back and forth between a Brazilian Afoché rhythm and fast swing.
Stein also proposes strong compositional vehicles for his bandmates, with half of the material on the recording penned by him. The tunes cover the terrain of modern jazz: from the bluesy jazz-rock of the title tune through forays in samba, swing, and modal jazz.
In fact, Stein uses his quartet as an elastic boundary. Sherman, Lockwood, and Nazario blend beautifully when given the chance. And Stein allows them generous opportunities to stretch out on their own; Sherman’s spot on “Chelsea Bridge,” for example, certainly belies his youthful age, as does all his work here. Lockwood’s solo on Stein’s own “Unraveled Plans” (a fittingly titled cut!), and his intro on “Delilah” are melodious sounds to behold. Stein’s connection with Nazario, himself a legend in his native Brazil, is the musical equivalent of a warm embrace, and it serves as a safety net for the guitarist. Wherever Stein chooses to stray, there is Nazario, ready to catch him. Nazario’s percussion cushion is, in itself, a marvel and worthy of its own concentrated attention.
Bing Bang Boom! is the fourth album from Stein’s quartet and it validates the journey and gives a fine indication of what’s to come. Once a bandleader allows for consistency and growth across this amount of time, the dividends are surely going to pay off. Kudos to Stein and his band for hanging with it long enough to get to this brilliant point, and to Whaling City Sound, Stein’s label, for nurturing the organic unfolding artistic process of four brilliant musicians.
To appear in the May issue:
Just Jazz Guitar Magazine
Bing Bang Boom – John Stein
Reviewed by Matt Warnock
Bing Bang Boom is the latest release by Boston based, and Associate Professor at the Berklee College of Music, jazz-guitarist John Stein. The quartet, featuring Stein and pianist Jake Sherman, drummer Ze Eduardo Nazario, and bassist John Lockwood, is in fine form as they work their way through 10 tracks that mix classic jazz standards, original composition, swing grooves and Brazilian beats. With a wide-variety of musical approaches on the record, while keeping everything glued together with a tight feel and ensemble interaction, Stein has once again produced a jazz-guitar record that is well-worth a listen.
Right from the get go, the John Stein Quartet sets the tone with a bluesy, grooving version of the jazz classic “Sugar.” With a soulful solo from Stein, some deep-groove from Sherman (who is the youngest member of the band and a student at the Berklee College of Music), and a very nice solo by Lockwood, the opening track is also one of the most memorable on the record. After such a strong start, it is no wonder the rest of the album sounds as it does, carrying that momentum forward into such tunes as the Brazilian influenced Belo Horizonte (named after the Brazilian city and home to the Clube da Esquina), and the fresh take on “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To.” Throughout the album the band maintains a strong sense of creativity and musicianship, on both the standards and original tunes, coupled with a tight ensemble feel that makes the album a joy to listen to.
From a playing perspective, Stein’s playing showcases his continued dedication to growing as a soloing and ensemble player. Though he has been at the professional level of playing for many years, Stein continues to push himself in new directions, without losing his personal style and voice along the way. Solos such as can be found on the the Jazz Standard “Lover” bring out lines and melodies that are fresh on this album, while mixing in these new ideas to his already vast jazz vocabulary, keeping this fresh and familiar at the same time. As an artist progresses in their career, it is always great to hear them continue to develop their craft, rather than rest on their previous successes, and Stein fits firmly into this category.
Bing Bang Boom will be a welcome addition to any jazz-guitar fan’s musical library. The playing is top-notch, the writing and arranging is fresh and creative, and the ensemble plays extremely well together. Everything one could ask for in a jazz-guitar record.
John Stein, “Bing Bang Boom” (Whaling City Sound). Music by Stanley Turrentine, Charles Mingus, Billy Strayhorn, Rodgers and Hart, Victor Young and Cole Porter performed by a multigenerational quartet of rhythm section plus the leader’s guitar (with young member Jake Sherman on Hammond B-3 organ, acoustic piano and Fender Rhodes piano). Drummer Ze Eduardo Nazario is from Brazil and, according to Bob Blumenthal’s notes, has played with Hermeto Pascoal and Egberto Gismonti. Turrentine’s “Sugar” says Blumenthal, hip-hops rather than shuffles but you can hear New Orleans second-line rhythms in it too. Stein … can play traditionally without ever foundering in clichés.
∆∆∆ (Jeff Simon, Buffalo News)
5.0 out of 5 stars Grade “AAA” Earfood, November 12, 2011
By Rick Erben (Omaha, NE) – See all my reviews
This review is from: Hi Fly (Audio CD)
Hi Fly is an impressive recording that strikes an intricate blend of meter, arrangement and excellence in musicianship. This release from John Stein and a superb rhythm section maintains a groove that is rhythmically attractive whether it be swinging, idyllic, exotic or down home. There’s solid playing going on here and a high level of group empathy that keeps everything percolating, embellished with Stein’s rich and warm guitar tone. Investment grade music, indeed.
CD Release Parties!!
Boston Area: Saturday, November 12 at 9 pm, Ryles Jazz Club, 212 Hampshire Street, Cambridge, MA, 617-876-9330
Tune in Wednesday, November 16 from noon to 1 pm to catch the John Stein Band performing at the Brown Bag Concert Series, Mechanics Hall, 321 Main Street, Worcester, MA. It will broadcast live on WICN radio, 90.5 FM
Top Ten Jazz Guitarist John Stein Brings His Quartet Back to the Wamsutta Club For YWCA Benefit
New Bedford, MA – Guitarist John Stein and his Quartet return to the Wamsutta Club in downtown New Bedford on Friday night, November 18, at 8 pm. The concert is presented by Whaling City Sound and proceeds benefit the YWCA of Southestern Mass.
The concert is both a celebration of the release of his latest CD, Hi Fly, and a warm-up the recording of yet another new one. This formula that has worked increasingly well for everyone involved, and New Bedford is a key part of it. It starts with John being a tasteful and swinging guitarist, composer and arranger and continues with assembling a remarkable quartet with both young and “more experienced” members from all over the world. Next is a concert at the Wamsutta in downtown New Bedford, and then a day or two later, into engineer Peter Kontrimas’ PBS Studio in Westwood, MA, near Rte 128.
The CDs that have resulted from this method have been both masterful and recognized as among the best music being put out today. In 2010, John Stein’s Raisin’ the RoofCD was # 2 for one week, in the top ten for 8 weeks and # 8 for theyear 2010in radio play on jazz stations through the United States. John’s last Wamsutta concert, celebrating the release of that CD, was standing-room-only in the packed Wamsutta.
Drummer Ze Eduardo Nazario will once again be flying in from Sao Paolo, Brazil to propel and accent the music from behind the drum set. Ze is a treat to have in the band; his contagious enthusiasm is matched only by his effortless technique and careful appropriateness.
Bassist John Lockwood may be the most understated rock-solid presence in jazz. His contribution to the sound is powerful and always natural. Several of the rave reviews of John Stein’s recent CDs made a point of recognizing that with John Lockwood in the mix, the level of the music is goes up several notches.
Jake Sherman plays piano and organ, and never ceases to marvel his bandmates with beyond-his-years sensitivity and taste. Although playing with giants of international jazz may be intimidating to some, Jake just goes about his business of accompanying the others and offering thoughtful and light-touched solos. When not playing jazz, Jake is the organist every Sunday at the Greater Antioch Temple Pentecostal Church in Brooklyn, NY.
On top of this remarkable foundation is the sensitive, clean and playful guitar of John Stein. An Associate Professor at Berklee College of Music in Boston, John’s leadership doesn’t stop with selecting super colleagues; the song choice allows all of them to have fun, and the interplay among pals is both musical and satisfying. John Stein knows how to make an audience feel good.
First there was Encounterpoint, then Raisin’ the Roof: and this month will see the release of Hi Fly: a concert in at the Wamsutta and then a studio-recorded CD that captures the spirit of a band that knows how to play jazz and likes to share it with people. At the November 18th concert, you can experience firsthand the energy of a jazz group who will then bottle that feeling in a legendary studio on Thanksgiving weekend.
The room at the Wamsutta is an ideal place to relax and enjoy acoustic jazz. The audience is a listening and appreciating one, and the musicians are energized by this. A limited food menu will be available, as well as drinks.
The Wamsutta Club, at 427 County Street, corner of Union Street, in downtown New Bedford, has plenty of on-site, easy-in/easy-out parking and is handicap accessible.
Founded in 1911 and celebrating 100 years, YWCA Southeastern Massachusetts is a women’s membership movement whose mission is to eliminate racism and empower women. YWCA Southeastern Massachusetts serves an area that stretches from the Rhode Island state line east to Provincetown, south to the Islands and north to Attleboro, Brockton and Plymouth. YWCA helps women, girls and their families attain self-sufficiency by providing services to support the vast needs of people from numerous populations. While the special concerns of women provide the impetus for YWCA services, many programs are open to everyone. YWCA Southeastern Massachusetts programs and services are identified in five areas: Advocacy, Adult Services, Wellness for Women and Girls, Residential Services and Youth Services.
Tickets are $20.00 in advance and $25.00 at the door. You are advised to purchase tickets early, as seating is limited and the event may sellout. Tickets are available at the YWCA, 20 South Sixth Street, New Bedford, MA 02740, (508) 999-3255, www.ywcasema.org; from Whaling City Sound (508) 992-6613, www.whalingcitysound.com; at Baker Books, 69 State Road, Dartmouth, MA 02747, www.bakerbooks.net, or at the Wamsutta Club, (508) 997-7431, www.wamsuttaclub.net. Directions are available at www.wamsuttaclub.net, or www.whalingcitysound.com.
Stein and band take flight on Hi Fly
You begin to get some sense of what you’re in for on John Stein’s vibrant new CD without even putting it into the player. Take a peek first at the back cover. There is the guitarist, in a partially illustrated photograph, an intent look on his face, only this time a graphic treatment shades his guitar and fret hand with bright stripes of color. I’d say this was a symbol and a pretty obvious one at that.
In musical terms, Stein has taken what has already been considered a wide spectrum of sound, and brightened it. His palette now includes the prismatic hues of jazz itself.
So, why all the new colors? Well, for one, Stein is truly coming into his own as a player. He and his band, including bassist John Lockwood and drummer Zé Eduardo Nazario are, after a handful of recordings together, fully in step. And now, the band has welcomed young keyboard player Jake Sherman, an inventive and creative spirit, fresh from Berklee, who adds his own keystrokes to these arrangements. Sherman’s presence infuses the band’s arrangements with energy and dimension.
Another reason the recording feels more colorful is that Stein, as a player, has pushed himself out of his comfort zone. As his colleagues nudge him forward, fleshing out these arrangements into something unexpectedly lovely, Stein propels himself to lead the way, to stay in front. His innovative soloing and tasteful, rhythmic chords hold up well against the band’s immense efforts. It is the sign of a leader who is up to the task of fronting an accomplished band. “The main thing,” says Stein in the liner notes to the album, “is the collaborative spirit in this record … The guys contributed a lot of musical ideas … Their instrumental virtuosity was challenging and I really stretched to keep up.”
“Hi Fly,” Stein’s third recording with Lockwood and Nazario, is a true achievement, with many bright moments. “Sea Smoke” showcases Nazario’s swing, “Plum Stone” is tailor-made for Sherman’s Hammond organ, and Lockwood steps up and out on “Love Letters” and on “Threesome.” Throughout the recording, beautifully captured by engineer Peter Kontrimas, the musicians seize on great opportunities to soar, and in doing so, display an intense, kaleidoscopic view of a talented and exciting band.
John Stein Quotes:
“Hi Fly is an excellent recording that I’m looking forward to featuring on my show. I have always loved John’s style and the way he delivers notes is magical and so beautiful!!”- Randy McElligott, CHUO.FM
Stein and Gill’s Turn Up the Quiet is an exceptional exercise in hushed, reverential craftsmanship. Gill’s vocal style strongly suggests the latter-career Me! Torme, with near-equally intense echoes of Jackie Paris and Tony Bennett… – Jazz Times
The choice of tunes is eclectic; The empathy between the artists shines through very clearly, Stein proves to be a very able accompanist, whether on guitar or playing bass with the piano of Gilad Barkan, who is also outstanding in the backing role… The planning research and rehearsal that went into a session like this is what makes for such an interesting programme and everyone should be congratulated, including the label for producing such an interesting release… – Don Mather
With Gill sounding like he learned to sing at the feet of Billy Eckstine and Stein knowing his way around a guitar fret board, this duo, with just a little bass coloration, make a completely enchanting adult jazz vocal date… – Chris Spector
A completely enchanting adult jazz vocal date, with an extra-heaping portion of class spread all over everything; This is a subtle set that you’ll be digging long before you even realize it… Loaded with a classic sound and vibe that’s always welcome. A winner throughout… – Wilbert Sostre / Jazz n Bossa
Gill is possessed of a smoky voice and a sensitive delivery, enabling him to interact effectively with Stein in this extremely intimate setting…
Stein’s guitar work steals the show. Even though he’s all about
understatement, pulling out poignant lines and complex, chordal
journeys, Stein simply can’t help but impress… – Jim Allen / LimeWire Store
These two talented musicians come together to prove once again that, in the right hands, the guitar and vocal duo is one of the most entertaining and engaging line-ups in jazz…
If there was ever a jazz guitarist who took the saying “Less is more” to heart, and used that philosophy to create intellectually engaging and enjoyable music, it’s John Stein…
Fans of any genre of music can put the disc on, sit back and let this duo take them on a relaxing, enjoyable musical journey. What else could one ask for in a jazz duo album? – Dr. Matt Warnock / Just Jazz Guitar
Turn Up the Quiet is all about finding the beauty in those silent
moments in a song… One should never take for granted the elegance of the quiet that can say so much. Turn Up the Quiet amplifies this point to the maximum, with pleasing results…- Layla Macoran / Jazz Inside New York
Ron Gill’s dusky vocals prove a fine match for John Stein’s smooth,
classy jazz guitar… this is delicate music for those times when even the slightest intrusion of volume just won’t do… – Jeff Tamarkin
I was struck immediately by the thoroughness of Gill’s musicianship: he has superb intonation, beautiful timbre, flawless articulation, and a full dynamic range… Like a tease, he leaves the listener wanting more… Stein, meanwhile, pours it on with all the sweet voice-leading progressions that one would expect from a veteran jazz guitarist, and like all master craftsmen, he makes it look (i.e., sound) easier than ever.. – Wayne Everett Goins
Stein’s exquisite taste and sensitivity really shines in the spare
instrumental context of voice and guitar, and his accompaniment brims with subtlety and nuance… Gill adapts beautifully to Stein’s subtlety with a sensitivity of his own. His hushed, vocal romanticism makes a brilliant couplet to Stein’s accompaniment… – The Jazz Chill Corner
Singer Ron Gill has realized a DJs dream with the support of guitarist John Stein, a life affirming dream – and he’s quite good at it – singing the great American standards on this CD… Gill and Stein resemble a similar repose of Ralph Sharon and Tony Bennett… – Dick Crockett
John Stein . . . the poet of the classical jazz guitar. – Dick Crockett “The Voice” / 88.7fm
John Stein is one of the great guitarists, in the tradition of Joe Pass and Tal Farlow. Raising The Roof proves my point! Ron Della Chiesa / WPLM, 99.1 fm
What a gift this man has. He’s in an elite class: a mere handful of jazz guitarists who consistently put taste above chops and flash. John Stein has the ability to say so much more with less effort than most of his contemporaries can muster. – Wayne Everett Goins /KC JAM
Stein has the touch – a bond with the guitar that only comes from deep spiritual dedication to those strings. Playing a collection of songs so sweetly is a sign of pure musical intelligence. – Layla Macoran / Jazz Inside New York
His guitar work steals the show. Even though he’s all about understatement, pulling out poignant lines and complex, Joe Pass-like chordal journeys, Stein simply can’t help but impress. – Jim Allen/ LimeWire Store
John Stein is one of the finest jazz guitarists you’ll ever hear, with beautiful touch, tone, swing, detail, and emotion. He is what you might call deep mainstream, surprising at every turn with familiar material. Working with a clean, undistorted classic jazz-guitar sound, he renders maximum swing and expression. There’s a wealth of detail – the dips and turns of phrases, accents falling like words – that he gets at even the fastest tempos. Jon Garelick – The Boston Phoenix
With HI Fly, renowned jazz guitarist John Stein takes flight, leading his high-flying quartet on another top-flight set…On this album, Stein navigates the band through five clever new compositions, and lifts several old standards to new heights under the wings of fresh new arrangements… – Edward Blanco / All About Jazz
Bing Bang Boom 4/4 Stars. Guitarist John Stein teams up with Jako Sherman on piano, bassist John Lockwood and Zé Eduardo Nazario on drums. Bing Bang Boom is a collection of 10 jazz classics. Our favorites are “Sugar”, “Delilah” and the title track. Stein’s warm guitar tone makes these songs sizzle and kept us engaged start to end with a smile on our face!… -O’s Place