At Berklee School of Music in Boston since 1980, guitarist John Stein has taught theory, arranging, ear training, ensembles, and composition. His debut album from 1994 includes seven original compositions and a few familiar jazz standards. With an emphasis on lyricism, Stein articulates the melody clearly on each tune and follows that with improvisations. The guitarist, who has a web site at http://www.xensei.com/users/jstein
, confesses that his favorite period in jazz history is the mid-1950s through the mid-1960s. Employing his organ trio for three tracks and a standard quartet for the others, Stein offers facets of the various styles from that period, jazz styles that have remained popular over the years.
The title track features Dave Limina on Hammond organ, Dave Hurst on drums, and Stein on guitar. Employing a background rhythm similar to the driving of "Milestones," both organ and guitar sound out the melody while Limina's feet provide the bass pattern via the pedals. The familiar "Bye Bye Blackbird" features pianist Bruce Torff, bassist Marshall Wood, drummer Les Harris, Sr., and guitar. Fast and swinging, the arrangement includes familiar elements such as ride cymbal, walking bass, trading fours, and lyrical solos. Pianist Torff is particularly adept at bringing a blues base into the ensemble's approach. "Bootin' It" starts out with an interesting guitar and bass unison over Harris' ride cymbal and leads to a clear, fresh blues approach. There's variety and individuality from the two ensembles, and the clear melodic approach from John Stein makes for an interesting session. Available from Knitting Factory Works, 74 Leonard Street, New York, New York 10013 (212) 219-3006.