Steven Bernstein's Millennial Territory OrchestraMTO Plays SlyThe Royal Potato Family2011 The Sly Stone songbook is a solid gold thing, and it is strange that it is so rarely revisited. Then again, repertory tributes are generally paid to artists who have passed. Stone is still with us, although, it sometimes seems, only just: over the last few decades, he has been ravaged by personal problems" which would likely have finished off any mere mortal. The man who promised the late 1960s/early 1970s counterculture that he wanted to take it higher, and whose ...read more
The line-up of slide trumpet, tuba and drums is, to say the least, somewhat unusual in jazz. As is the choice of Hank Williams' So Lonesome I Could Cry" as a vehicle for improvisation. On Tattoos and Mushrooms, trumpeter Steven Bernstein, tubaist Marcus Rojas and drummer Kresten Osgood go boldly into aural regions where no man has gone before. To put it another way, this is not what Count Basie called music to pat your foot to." Indeed, there are some deeply disturbing sounds on this album. Bernstein is best known for his work ...read more
Jazz is fun again. Yes, in the hands of a showman like Steven Bernstein it can be a ball. Whether he is fronting his band Sexmob, playing sideman to Bobby Previte, or arranging tracks for Mario Pavone, he means to entertain us. And entertainment as in that's show biz folks." Maybe it was his early work with John Lurie's Lounge Lizards or his experience researching regional jazz bands as the musical director for Robert Altman's film Kansas City (1996) that turned him into a showman. He may have a love of cartoons from the 1930s and '40s, ...read more
From his career-defining work on the score to Robert Altman's film Kansas City to his recent arrangements for producer Hal Wilner's various projects, trumpeter Steven Bernstein has ascended from the ranks of the underground to attain a level of recognition that few musicians of his caliber receive.
Bernstein's rough and tumble Sex Mob quartet has been tearing down musical boundaries for well over a decade, but it is his large ensemble, the Millennial Territory Orchestra (MTO), that offers the most complete view of his multifarious abilities. Conducting a phenomenal group of soloists, he limits his wildly expressive brass ...read more
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McCoy Tyner Trio with Ravi Coltrane/Bran Van 3000 Catherine Russell/Steely Dan Steven Bernstein's Millennial Territory Orchestra/McCoy Tyner Big Band Festival International de Jazz de Montréal Montréal, Quebec, Canada July 1-3, 2008
Now nearing its thirty-year anniversary, the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal continues to create a universe unto itself. With six square city blocks closed in the city's downtown core, it's an eleven-day party that's marked by high spirits and ...read more
Diaspora Suite is the fourth installment of trumpeter Steven Bernstein's Diaspora series, which explores the connections between Jewish melodic traditions and contemporary styles. And it may be the most personal. The six-hour session was recorded in Oakland, California--Bernstein's hometown--and included musicians he's played with since grade school: multi-instrumentalist Peter Apfelbaum, trombonist Jeff Cressman and drummer Josh Jones. The nonet is completed with additional drummer Scott Amendola, electric bassist Devin Hoff, clarinetist Ben Goldberg and the twin guitars of Nels Cline and John Schott (with additional post-session guitar sweeteners from Will Bernard). The thick instrumentation nods to the ...read more
Diaspora Suite is trumpeter and bandleader Steven Bernstein's fourth recording (and first of all original material) in a series dedicated to radical reinterpretations of traditional Yiddish melodies. After a memorial for the late director Robert Altman (Bernstein scored Altman's Kansas City), he reflected on a quote from Altman, Create an event and shoot it like you have no control over it."
Inspired by Altman's words, Bernstein recruited a group of long time associates in the Bay area for an afternoon recording session in his hometown of Oakland, California.
The result is a West Coast summit meeting, ...read more
Leaving behind the west coast cool of 2004's Diaspora Hollywood, Steven Bernstein travels 350 miles north along the California coast to Oakland for the edgier, left coast avant of Diaspora Suite. It's the freest, most aggressive disc in the trumpeter's Diaspora series, which began with 1999's Diaspora Soul and continued with 2002's Diaspora Blues, all four discs a part of John Zorn's Radical Jewish Culture on Tzadik.
Every Diaspora disc has had its own premise, and Suite is no different. Instead of blending original material with reimagined traditional Jewish music, Bernstein has written all the music ...read more
Big Four (Nagl, Bernstein, Akchote, Jones) Big Four Live hatHUT 2007 Various Artists The Harlem Experiment Ropeadope 2007
Retro playing is always a bit of a gambit. Musicians often in the act of recreation lose the sense of creation. Whatever his secret is, trumpeter Steven Bernstein has always been able to rise above stale retreads, bringing a sense of exuberance to almost everything he plays. But if he ...read more
Trumpeter/composer/arranger Steven Bernstein may be the ultimate Downtown jazz personality. Certainly, he's one of the most ubiquitous and hard-working since he began playing in New York in the 1980s after relocating from California. In addition to playing with, well, everyone, he was a member of the 1990s edition of John Lurie's Lounge Lizards and a co-leader of the 1990s trio Spanish Fly. Meeting producer/impresario Hal Willner (who produced the first Spanish Fly album) led to a long association that's continued to this day--Bernstein having become Willner's indispensable bandleader/arranger for many of his multiartist events, including tributes to artists like Doc ...read more
Sex Mob Sexotica Thirsty Ear 2006 Steven Bernstein's Millenial Territory Orchestra MTO Volume 1 Sunnyside 2006
Slide trumpeter Steven Bernstein knows what the people want: groove, bluesy soul, familiar tunes and humor - all in evidence on his two latest releases. Sexotica, Sex Mob's sixth release, continues a trajectory towards original compositions and mixing-room micromanagement. There's plenty of exotic electronica, thanks to Danny Blume and Chris Castagno, who create a far-Eastern, ...read more
It's hard to believe that someone with Steven Bernstein's encyclopaedic musical knowledge has left any stones unturned. Recruited by filmmaker Robert Altman as a musical consultant for Kansas City, the veteran trumpeter from the downtown New York scene became fascinated with the music of the late teens and '20s, when the language of jazz was still being formed. So much so that he turned the experience into an ongoing musical project that echoes the music of bands that toured territories like the American Midwest over eighty years ago. MTO Volume 1 is the first release by Bernstein's Millennial Territory Orchestra, ...read more
Picture a couple of Jewish grandpas sitting around cracking jokes. Now imagine a Hollywood starlet from the '50s sauntering into a dimly lit club and you've got Diaspora Hollywood , the third installment of trumpet player Steven Bernstein's Diaspora series on John Zorn's Tzadik label. An ode to pioneering geniuses like Franz Waxman and Max Steiner, the disc salutes the great Jewish film composers who left their chilly Eastern European homelands for the sunny, palm-fringed streets of Los Angeles. With six traditional tunes, three originals and two cantoral pieces, Diaspora Hollywood is a sophisticated album filled with quirky ...read more
Trumpeter/composer/bandleader Steven Bernstein may have made his name with groups as far-flung as Sex Mob and the Lounge Lizards, but it is quite possible that his most enduring work, the effort that will be most remembered when people look back at a long and fruitful career, is his series of Diaspora recordings on John Zorn's Tzadik label and its Radical Jewish Culture imprint. By taking traditional Jewish music and reworking it in a variety of contexts, Bernstein has demonstrated just how malleable the music is. From the Cuban and soul inflections of Diaspora Soul ('99) to the blues-informed but never ...read more
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