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Mike Stern Live at the Birchmere

Mike Stern Live at the Birchmere

Courtesy Sandrine Lee


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...a rousing set of jazz and fusion as energetic as Stern has ever been, even at 70 years of age.
Mike Stern
The Birchmere
Alexandria, Virginia
February 8, 2023

Mike Stern brought his band to the Birchmere for a rousing set of jazz and fusion as energetic as Stern has ever been, even at 70 years of age. The set spanned works from Stern's most recent recordings all the way back to an updated version of his classic tune "Chromazone." Mike's rhythm section featured Baltimore-area legends Dennis Chambers on drums and Gary Grainger on bass whom many will recall were also the classic rhythm section for John Scofield in his 1980s fusion years. While Chambers has played with Stern on and off for decades, it was the first time that the pair had toured together with Stern and they immediately gelled with his music, providing that mix of funk, swing and groove for which both are so well known.

Bob Franceschini on tenor provides most of the melodic counterpoint to Stern and has been playing with him for quite some time to great effect. Franceschini is an extremely articulate improviser more than capable of holding his own and the pair's unison lines and solo battles were high points of the evening. As a bonus, Mike's wife Leni Stern is also a part of the group and she provides interesting contrast playing the West African ngoni and with her own voice, particularly on her tune, "Like a Thief." Mike Stern also got in on vocal duties with a rousing version of "Red House" as well.

The Birchmere provided well-balanced sound and a clear line of sight from all corners of the room. Jazz and fusion clearly have a home at The Birchmere, which also hosts Larry Carlton on his farewell tour and Stanley Clarke.

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