Graham Reid | | 1 min read
Guitarist Mike Stern is the man Miles Davis fans loved to hate.
Probably even today.
That was because he brought the hard rock textures – which Davis wanted – to Miles' band at the dawn of the Eighties, captured on the double live album We Want Miles.
He was in Blood Sweat and Tears before joining Davis and six years ago came to New Zealand to play with the Rodger Fox Big Band, at which time we interviewed him.
The name of keyboard player Jeff Lorber might be a red flag to those who don't want to relive slick and professional Californian fusion again.
But here it is with a classy band of bassist Jimmy Haslip (Yellowjackets), drummers Vinnie Colaiuta, Gary Novak and Dave Weckl, horn arranger/performer Dave Mann and others.
Despite the interesting exoticism of Leni Stern playing n'goni on Nu Som, this really only comes alive with the third track, Stern's soul-funk Jones Street (which he first recorded two decades ago), and Lorber's swanky and funk-swing Motor City which follows where he really lets loose on keyboards within the tight four minutes as well as holding down a powerful bass part.
Stern's Tel Me – another one from his distant back-catalogue – is a lovely smooth ballad but the rounded sheen it is given perhaps takes you back to Eighties films set in Miami rather than pulling it into the 21stcentury.
Guitar Player readers should head straight to the fiery Ha Ha Hotel and Rhumba Pagan topwards the end which are busy slice of proper jazz-rock fusion which deserve a place on an album named after the Spinal Tap joke.
How much you enjoy this will be down to if you like joining the dots of fusion, Stern and LA, and an admiration for technique.
You can hear it on Spotify here.