Guitarist Mike Stern projected a stylish, chops-heavy impression on the general jazz populous during his auspicious entry into the circuit, supporting jazz-fusion era Miles Davis. Indeed, one of the more distinctive guitarists spanning several decades, the artist enlists a who's who of current bass greats amid appearances by longtime associates, trumpeter Randy Brecker and former Davis drummer Al Foster. With a proverbial star-studded cast, Stern ventures into non-jazz circles, covering blues, West African themes, country rock, and other genres.
While Stern does go all over the place by cutting and pasting the jazz vernacular into various song forms and ethnocentric deities, he revisits familiar fusion territory on the title track. With a souped-up rhythm section featuring bassist Will Lee and drummer Keith Carlock generating smack, crackle and pop, Stern goes head-to-head with saxophonist Bob Malach via odd-metered time signatures, touching upon funk, rock and slashing improvisational segments. Along with pianist/producer Jim Beard, the frontline delves into call-and-response mechanisms and reinvents the primary melody. Stern ups the ante with scathing linear runs, while bending his strings into submission and zooming in for the kill. It's a divergent program, modeled with emotive persuasions, affable arrangements and technical poise.
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