John Stein: Portraits and Landscapes
Jardis Records is the German counterpart of England's String Jazz label. Both concentrate on guitar music and performers. Here Jardis has reached across the Atlantic to put to a CD the styling of Boston's John Stein. Stein, who teaches harmony at the prestigious Berklee College, gathered together some like minded cohorts for a solid session of straight ahead jazz with modern trimmings. All but one of the pieces are by Stein and are especially melodic, avoiding jagged, quirky rhythm patterns. The melody lines deliver the musical message in a way that can be understood and enjoyed by those who chose to listen. But be aware, this is not "old fashioned" jaz. The melodies are interesting with their well-constructed melange of colors and tones. I don't know whether the title Sarlat was an take off on Scarlatti, but the chamber style arrangement comes across as if it were. Bill Thompson's flute melds with the expressive dark bowed bass of Keala Kaumeheiwa. Kaumeheiwa takes a different turn with his power walking bass by once again working with Thompson's alto on "Be Ooo Ba". Swinging post pop is the name of the game on "Mister Dance" again with Messrs. Stein, Thompson and Kaumeheiwa working within a tempo set by Greg Conroy's rolling drums. My only complaint is the use of that record scratching technique used in rap on "Samba Nights" which is, at best, obtrusive. Top ranked keyboard player Larry Goldings is present with both piano and organ and is especially captivating on a lovely ballad with Latin undertones, Madelyn.
This is an album of fresh, engaging music decisively recommended. Visit John at www.johnstein.com.
Track Listing: Samba Nights; Moonlight in Vermont; Be Ooo Ba; Sarlat; Mister Dave; Madelyn; Sammy; Rio Con Brio; Ben J Man; Switch-A-Roo
Personnel: John Stein - Guitar; Larry Goldings - Piano/Hammond Organ; Bill Thompson - Flute/ Tenor & Alto Sax; Keala Kaumeheiwa - Bass; Greg Conroy - Drums/Percussion