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Eclectic

Two bona fide guitar heroes in their respective fields – Eric Johnson in the rock realm and Mike Stern in the jazz world – go toe-to-toe on Eclectic, a scintillating musical showcase that brings together their disparate influences in one potent package. Guitar aficionados of all stripes will stand slack-jawed hearing these formidable six-stringers exchanging high octane licks on Stern’s funky “Roll With It” and Johnson’s cruising pop anthem “Hullabaloo” (a kind of answer to his catchy GRAMMY®-winning rock instrumental “Cliffs of Dover” from the platinum-selling 1990 album Ah Via Musicom). The two dip into a jazzy bag on Eric’s “Tidal” (a tribute to his own personal guitar hero, Wes Montgomery) and on Mike’s surging modal romp “Remember” (patterned after John Coltrane’s “Impressions” with some allusions to Jimi Hendrix’s “Third Stone From the Sun”). More fretboard flights ensue on Johnson’s jazzy “Benny Man’s Blues” (a kind of ode to Benny Goodman and Charlie Christian) and on Stern’s dark, slow-grooving “You Never Know.” And it is somehow fitting that these two sons of Jimi close out this six-string extravaganza with a scorching rendition of the famous Hendrix blues, “Red House,” with each of them trading vocal choruses. “It was my singing debut,” says Stern. “I sang the first verse and Eric sang the second verse, then he sings the first two lines of the third verse and I sing the last two lines of the third verse.” (Stern also sneaks in a quote from Jimi’s “Third Stone From the Sun” on a smoking rendition of “Dry Ice,” an Electromagnets tune which Eric revived for this session). Sterns sums up the project by saying, “This whole record, even though we did it in the studio, was really recorded live. A couple of things were fixed but there was that spontaneous quality which is what we were looking for and I definitely think that's what we got. I really dig the way this record came out. It has a lot of energy and a lot of musicality.”

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Mike Stern and Eric Johnson Live at The Granada Theater, Dallas, Texas Video.


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“Stern brings it on this latest release, with his slinky phrasing, cool chorused tone, and deep pocket…For such a nice guy he sure is a bad mofo.”
Guitar Player

 [Stern]’s a mover. Not one to pick a place to go and relax there. And he likes using a super-sized cast of players to help him make those moves…drawing them into his groove and then letting them loose to affix their own shapes and colors to his creations. It works to his advantage…a set that makes no apologies for its restlessness.”

JazzTimes 

“Another typically eclectic outing that ranges from menacing funk grooves and uplifting African-flavored numbers to straightahead swingers and poignant, lyrical ballads, the aptly titled All Over the Place may be Stern’s best album yet.”

Jazziz

“True, guitar god Stern is regularly ‘all over the place’ around the globe touring with different lineups, which enables him to write with specific musicians in mind—a key reason his 15th solo outing is among his finest. Another is the eight flavors of bass he calls upon to deliver his nuanced compositions and drive his multilingual blowing.”

Bass Player

“Like jazz? You’ll like Mike. Like funk? You’ll like Mike. Like world music? You’ll like Mike Stern. All Over the Place, the guitarist’s aptly titled new album, is impossible to file under one category. It is an inspired, eclectic, irresistible expression of music without borders. With guest stars such as supernova Esperanza Spalding, African Richard Bona, as well as sax great Chris Potter along for the joy ride, you will be moved.”

Christian Science Monitor

 “From his days with Blood Sweat & Tears through a stint with Miles Davis, guitarist Mike Stern has created a sound that is always individual but has worked with any project. In All Over the Place, he again goes those directions with a strong and shifting backup cast. The material goes from a funky ‘Blues for Al,’ which features drummer Al Foster, another Davis alumnus, to a reflective ‘You Never Told Me."

 


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From Critical Jazz.Com

To pigeonhole Mike Stern as a modern jazz, fusion, or contemporary guitarist is far too limiting to such a gifted artist whose influences and command of styles are ...well...All Over The Place!

Mike Stern is a searching musician. Stern is an evolving artist and the sonic byproduct of his own experience. The 2009 release Big Neighborhood is a release built on diversity and drawn from a myriad of influences going back to Blood Sweat & Tears in the mid 70's to some work with Miles Davis in the mid 80's and now a stellar solo career that has spanned over 25 years has all gone into All Over The Place! It is no wonder Stern was the recipient of Guitar Player Magazine's Certified Legend Award for 2012. If an eclectic mix of R&B, rock, swing, funk and world music happen to hit your musical sweet spot as they did mine on the 2009 Big Neighborhood on Heads Up then All Over The Place will be right up your alley. Just to drop a few names one can hear Randy Brecker, Kenny Garrett, Esperanza Spalding and Richard Bona and that is just the beginning of what is in store.

The opening tune "AJ" was specifically penned for contrabass guitarist Anthony Jackson. Other guests kicking off this funk infused tune include saxophonist Chris Potter and Stern's wife Lenni on rhythm guitar. Leni Stern who is a magnificent artist in her own right returns for "Out Of The Blue." This time Leni Stern plays the exotic three stringed Malian instrument called a n'goni and the texture created seems to weave its sound like the golden thread of some beautiful tapestry. A world music creation that is adventurous but still highly accessible to those more comfortable with the more western form and functionality of the improvised music we call jazz. One piece that may seem slightly out of place but if you have a working knowledge of the Stern discography then it may seem more familiar is the acoustic piece "You Never Told Me." While Stern is considered by many as the best electric guitarist of our day, the intimate and organic presentation showcases a reflective side not often associated with an artist known for their six string pyrotechnics. The end result of "You Never Told Me" is cinematic in scope while surprisingly subtle. A tune in search of a brilliant feature film. "Halfway Home" is another piece of sonic diversity with Stern's slide guitar prowess on display on this blues nasty as they are juxtapose to Victor Wooten's funk on steroids approach to the bass line.

Stern is on record stating music is a language of the heart. With the release of All Over The Place Stern has gone deep and well past the heart, Stern hung a hard left at the soul and kept going till he found what he needed. The end result is easily the release of the year.

High points are too many to list as this is a virtually flawless presentation. Low points? Seriously?

5 Huge Stars!

Tracks: AJ; Cameroon; Out Of The Blue; As Far As We Know; Blues For Al; OCD; You Never Told Me: Halfway Home; Light; Flipside; All Over The Place.

Personnel: Mike Stern: guitars; Randy Brecker: trumpet; Kenny Garrett: saxophonist; Dave Weckl; Keith Carlock, Lionel Cordew; Basses: Esperanza Spalding, Richard Bona, Victor Wooten, Anthony Jackson, Dave Holland, Tom Kennedy, Will Lee, Victor Bailey; Chris Potter: saxophonist; Jim Beard: keyboards; Leni Stern: rhythm guitar; Tim Keiper: percussionist; Bob Malach: saxophone.

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