391

John Stein: Raising the Roof

Matthew Warnock By

Sign in to view read count
John Stein: Raising the Roof Raising the Roof is a hard-swinging and thoroughly enjoyable album by Boston-based guitarist John Stein. Featuring an all-star quartet, with keyboardist Koichi Sato, bassist John Lockwood and drummer Zé Eduardo Nazario, the group plays together with a sense of cohesion that borders on the realm of ESP. While this level of communication and familiarity is to be expected by world-class jazz musicians such as these, what is surprising is that they were able to play in this fashion with such a quick rehearsal and recording schedule, another testament to their masterful musicality.

The tunes are a mix of freshly-arranged jazz standards and Stein's original compositions. Stein's arrangements stick fairly close to the original composers' intents, but go beyond the realm of simple head charts. A master of subtlety, as both a player and writer/arranger, Stein finds small ways to breathe new life into these classic jazz tunes.

One of his favorite ways to put a personal stamp on a standard is through his use of unexpected rhythms and grooves. "Nica's Dream," which is taken at an unexpectedly fast swing tempo, along with the oft-played "Moanin,'" which features a hard-driving brush groove by the Brazil-based Nazario, are examples of refreshing arrangements that don't lose touch with the composer's original intent.

Stein guitar playing on Raising the Roof is simplistic in the best sense of the word. Modern jazz soloists, especially guitarists, are often guilty of overplaying and of making the music complex for the sake of being so, something that has simultaneously raised the intellectual level of the music and isolated the general audience.

Stein's playing is simple in the way that Jim Hall's playing is simple. There is a solid focus on the melody, his love of rhythmic variety is immediately evident and above all, any advanced harmonic or melodic application is done with the greatest care and utmost intent. Stein never plays a line or phrase because his fingers tell him to; every line and chord has the sense of being carefully chosen and played with the utmost intent and precision.

There's a strong sense that his ears are guiding his notes, not his technique, which is something that can only come from spending as many years on the bandstand as Stein has. Using all of these approaches, Stein draws his audience in, allowing it to be a part of the music—something of a lost art on the jazz scene in recent years.

Raising the Roof is not going to reinvent jazz or change the way people think about jazz guitar. What it will do is provide an hour of musical enjoyment for musicians and non-musicians alike. Far too often jazz is criticized because the musicians seem to be creating music, either for themselves or the enjoyment of other jazz musicians.

Stein successfully keeps the music intellectually relevant, while at the same time enjoyable and broadly accessible; not an easy feat to accomplish in any musical genre.


Track Listing: Nica's Dream; Moanin'; A Child is Born; Elvin; Invitation; Vivo Sonhando; Beautiful Love; Wild Woods; Falling in Love With Love.

Personnel: John Stein: guitar; Koichi Sato: keyboards; John Lockwood: acoustic bass; Zé Eduardo Nazario: drums and percussion.

Title: Raising the Roof | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Whaling City Sound


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read BACHanalia CD/LP/Track Review BACHanalia
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Hallways CD/LP/Track Review Hallways
by Paul Rauch
Published: June 24, 2017
Read The Crave CD/LP/Track Review The Crave
by John Sharpe
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Chase The Light (Excursions in Soul, Reggae, Funk, and Dub) CD/LP/Track Review Chase The Light (Excursions in Soul, Reggae, Funk, and Dub)
by Joe Gatto
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Kickin' Child - The Lost Album 1965 CD/LP/Track Review Kickin' Child - The Lost Album 1965
by Doug Collette
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Towards Language CD/LP/Track Review Towards Language
by John Eyles
Published: June 23, 2017
Read "On Ceremony" CD/LP/Track Review On Ceremony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 17, 2016
Read "Alfa" CD/LP/Track Review Alfa
by Tyran Grillo
Published: March 10, 2017
Read "Subtle Energy" CD/LP/Track Review Subtle Energy
by Geannine Reid
Published: October 13, 2016
Read "Live 1972" CD/LP/Track Review Live 1972
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 5, 2017
Read "What Time Is It?" CD/LP/Track Review What Time Is It?
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 6, 2017
Read "Metal Na Madeira" CD/LP/Track Review Metal Na Madeira
by Jim Trageser
Published: January 6, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.