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Electronic Press Kit

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Press Release

GUITAR GODS ERIC JOHNSON AND MIKE STERN JOIN FORCES ON SLAMMING SIX-STRING SUMMIT MEETING, ECLECTIC

Acclaimed players find common ground on their first-ever collaboration

For Immediate Release – 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.”

Recorded at Johnson’s studio in his native Austin, Texas, Eclectic, scheduled for release on October 27, 2014 on Heads Up International, a division of Concord Music Group, is anchored by the flexible rhythm tandem of drummer Anton Fig (a longstanding member in the Paul Shaffer-led house band of Late Night With David Letterman) and Johnson’s regular bassist Chris Maresh, who also contributes the open-ended Bitches Brew flavored “Bigfoot.” Special guests on this three-day session include Austin’s resident soul man Malford Milligan, who sings with gravelly-voiced gusto on the opening “Roll With It.” “He’s just awesome,” says Johnson. “Malford’s got so much vibe it doesn’t matter what he sings. He just puts magic on everything.” Mike’s wife Leni Sternalso provides vocals and plays n’goni (an African stringed instrument) on intros to “Bigfoot” and “Wherever You Go.” Christopher Cross (the GRAMMY® Award-winning songwriter of “Sailin’,” “Ride Like the Wind” and “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)” as well as a fellow Texan and longtime friend of Johnson’s) sings backup vocals on the bridge to Stern’s beautiful “Wishing Well” with Mike singing the verses. Guy Forsythlends some blues harp to “Red House.” And Johnson’s catchy “Hullabaloo” is punched up by the horn section of saxophonist John Mills, trombonist Mike Mordecai and trumpeter Andrew Johnson.

Not only have the two guitarists admired each other’s playing for years (Eric heard Mike back in the ’80s with Miles Davis, and Mike first heard Eric when his hit “Cliffs of Dover” caught on big back in 1990), they came to have a greater appreciation of each other’s songwriting abilities during the course of the Eclectic sessions. “I’ve been aware of Mike for years and I was familiar with some of his playing,” says Eric, “but I wasn’t as deeply familiar with his songwriting. As we began working together, I started going through all his songs and I was just blown away by some of the ballads. His tunes ‘Wishing Well’ and ‘Sometimes’ are beautiful. And his tune ‘Wherever You Go’ is one of my favorites on the record. I think that’s another thing we have in common: we both get turned on by and really enjoy a good song. If there’s some kind of viable composition that’s put together in a way that emotes to people, we’re both real fans of that and that’s why it’s exhilarating to do it. We’re both interested and sensitive about songwriting and composition, and consequently since we’re also so passionate about playing guitar I think we try to figure out how to do it in a way that serves the composition. So I think what comes out of that is just a little bit of a tension and a little bit of care and concern about what the other person is playing. I’m constantly thinking, ‘How can I voice what I’m playing to fit what Mike is playing? How can we make it work in a musical way?’” And they strike a rare accord throughout Eclectic.

The seeds for this extraordinary six-string summit meeting were planted in 2009 when Johnson played on two tracks from Stern’s GRAMMY®-nominated album Big Neighborhood. As Stern recalls, “At that session, which we also did down in Austin, I remember us saying, ‘One of these days we should do a record together,’ but I never thought that would happen. And then we played a gig together at the Blue Note in New York, and it kind of went from there.” Johnson and Stern’s week-long engagement at the Blue Note in August 2013 was preceded by two warm-up nights at the Regattabar in Boston, where they further explored their musical chemistry together. “It was really fun for me because we have different priorities in our playing,” says Stern. “I’m more of a jazz player, of course...that’s my priority and I love that stuff. But I also love rock and blues-rock and straight blues and Motown. That’s how I came up. I started off listening to Jimi Hendrix, Smokey Robinson, Aretha Franklin and the Jackson Five, and of course, lots of blues. Those were my roots. And then I got more into jazz when I was about 17. I fell in love with it. And ever since then my priority has been with my jazz playing. But I have that other stuff that comes out in my music. And it always has. For Eric, jazz has never has been his total priority, although Wes Montgomery is his favorite cat. So he has a lot of that sensibility in his playing. And as we started playing together we discovered that we really had so much in common. So it was definitely fun.”

Stern was ecstatic about getting an insider’s look at Johnson’s unique six-string vocabulary. “The way this cat plays! I’m just beginning to figure out what the hell he’s doing. He does these pedal steel kind of licks on guitar and such beautiful orchestration. He picks some notes with his right hand using his fingers and pick together. He plays a lot with his fingers and pick, and some of the runs that he uses...the lines that he plays are very harmonically sophisticated. He can play piano, so there’s some pianistic stuff that happens with his comping. And he’s got Travis picking down. Plus, he’s a singer, so that influences his phrasing on guitar. Everything he plays is really cool and beautiful. It’s just very much Eric Johnson. He’s got his own style and it’s amazing! And more than that, he’s just a very soulful cat. He plays with a lot of heart and soul. And I love that!”

Adds Johnson, “I was mentioning to Mike when we did this recording that it was one of my favorite double guitar situations that I’ve ever done, because a lot of times you do two guitar things and it’s hard for it to fit together in a very musical, cohesive way. It can get kind of busy, where you cover each other up. But through dynamics and listening to each other and thinking about the way we voice chords and support each other, I think this collaboration lent itself to being more in a musical kind of way, which has been a real nice experience for me.”

With Johnson’s warm-toned distortion licks, smooth intervallic leaps up the fretboard and his occasional audacious wah-wah licks blending organically with Stern’s fiery be-bop and blues-based vocabulary, Eclectic is chockfull of thrilling fretboard fusillades, tempered with some uncannily lyrical six-string work by two of the most esteemed players of their generation. For music aficionados, this collaboration is a match made in heaven.


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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.”




CD All Over The Place 2012

Mike's brand new 11-song set aligns the characteristically diverse and adventurous guitarist with a cadre of brilliant guests, including trumpeter Randy Brecker; saxophonist Kenny Garrett; and drummers Dave Weckl, Keith Carlock and Lionel Cordew. Also on hand is a delegation of high-caliber electric and acoustic bass players: Esperanza Spalding, Richard Bona, Victor Wooten, Anthony Jackson, Dave Holland, Tom Kennedy, Will Lee and Victor Bailey.

“The guitar tends to keep you open-minded, because you hear it in so many places,” says Stern, listing many places he himself has ventured along the way – not just on All Over the Place, but in earlier work as well. “You hear it in rock, in country, in pop, in funk, in classical, you hear it in jazz, you hear it in so many kinds of music that you can immediately identify it on one level or another.”

Stern is ready at a moment’s notice to go to all of these places and more, and he’s ready and willing to bring anyone along for the ride. “Music, to me, is a language of the heart,” he says. “I hope people will get some emotional payoff from what I’ve done on this recording. That’s the vibe that I continue to go for with all of my music.”



CD Big Neighborhood 2009

The 55-year-old American is no rocker, but a Berklee-trained jazz musician. His musical acquaintances speak for his tastes: Jaco Pastorius, Michael Brecker, John Scofield and Dennis Chambers are among his collaborators over the years. And of all those names, it is Stern's that represents jazz's closest accommodation with rock. He's very eclectic and the title of the record explains it all!

Over the years his music has been incorcorating into his music many genres: rock, jazz, Latin, African and Middle Eastern grooves and he has travelled the word: his playing transcends genres and he's just as likely to attract a rock crowd as much a discerning jazz audience. The world is his backyard. That's the reason why he calls his music ... his "big neighboorhood"!

 

 



CD Who Let The Cats Out 2006

Mike Stern, one of the most recognized and celebrated guitarists of his generation, released his Heads Up International worldwide debut album, Who Let the Cats Out?, on August 15, 2006. On Stern’s thirteenth release as a leader, the award winning three-time GRAMMY nominee continues to blur the boundaries between jazz, funk, blues and rock with eleven unique originals.

Who Let the Cats Out? was recorded in January 2006 and features a stunning lineup including bassists Richard Bona (who handles vocals on two tracks), Anthony Jackson, Meshell Ndegeocello, Chris Minh Doky and Victor Wooten, trumpeter Roy Hargrove, saxophonists Bob Franceschini and Bob Malach, drummers Dave Weckl and Kim Thompson, harmonica player Gregoire Maret, and keyboardist/producer Jim Beard



CD These Times 2004

Combine the innovative guitar energy of legendary fusion master Mike Stern with old friends (bassist Richard Bona, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta) and new (saxman Kenny Garrett), and anything is bound to happen. But fans expecting raucous swinging and jamming the whole time may be surprised at the subtle lyricism and exotic explorations that define these times for their hero.

Yes, his electric is crackling on the hypnotic opener, "Chatter," but it's in the crazy, exotic context of a Middle Eastern vibe inspired by Pakistani great Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (look out, Eddie Vedder!). Jim Beard's jumpy piano, Colaiuta's wild, New Orleans groove, and Garrett's swirling lines provide great support. Once Stern and company have the listener's attention, they can become seductive with more intimate affairs like the Joe Zawinul-influenced "Silver Lining," which features an exotic falsetto vocal by Bona, a former Zawinul Syndicate member who also propels the tune with his increasingly muscular basslines.



CD Voices 2001

Most of Mike Stern's albums have been 100 percent instrumental; as a rule, he doesn't use vocalists because his guitar does all of the "singing." But Voices is an exception -- a highly engaging and memorable exception. This surprising and totally unexpected effort finds a 48-year-old Stern using wordless vocals in a manner that brings to mind fellow fusion guitarists Pat Metheny and Al DiMeola. Think of Metheny on Letter From Home and Still Life (Talking), or DiMeola on Orange and Blue, and one will know the type of approach that Stern is going for this time.

While the wordless vocals that Stern uses on Voices add a lot to the album, his guitar is still the focal point. This isn't the type of project in which the leader brings in an acclaimed jazz singer like Dianne Reeves or Kitty Margolis and features her prominently on standards -- that isn't what he was going for. Ultimately, the vocalists who Stern employs (who include Arto Tuncboyaciyan and Elizabeth Kantomanou) are there to serve and compliment his guitar.



CD Play 1999

Mike Stern is a preeminent guitarist for two key reasons: One, he can play all styles very well and with equal command; and two, he plays very well with all other players. He always shows great respect for those with whom he is playing and gives them each the time and space to develop their musical ideas. Stern displays these two qualities in abundance on Play. Several notable guests join Stern and his core band for this release. Guitarists John Scofield and Bill Frisell and drummer Dennis Chambers each team with Stern on several tracks.

If you enjoy straight-ahead jazz, listen to Stern and Scofield on the title track, or mix in Bob Malach's tenor sax on "Outta Town." If you like your guitar music slightly more spacious and lyrical, try Stern and Frisell on the hypnotic "Blue Tone" or the pensive "All Heart." Finally, if you want to turn up the heat and move into some rock/funk-influenced fusion, then check out the groovy "Tipatina's," the bold rocker "Link," or the intensely funky "Big Kids." It is no surprise, based on his other work, that Chambers, in particular, gives the band a kick in the musical pants inspiring bassist Lincoln Goines to enjoy the ride.



CD Give And Take 1997

This is a relatively straight-ahead set by the distinctive guitarist Mike Stern, whose airy sound seems quite fresh in this context. Stern performs three standards ("I Love You," "Giant Steps" and "Oleo"), Jimi Hendrix's "Who Knows," and six originals, mostly in a trio with bassist John Patitucci and drummer Jack DeJohnette. Percussionist Don Alias helps out on a few tracks; pianist Gil Goldstein is on two, and tenor great Michael Brecker nearly steals the show with three high-powered solos. Actually, the biggest surprise is "That's What You Think," a straight-ahead blues that has a very credible alto solo from guest David Sanborn. All in all, an excellent outing.


1996
CD Between The Lines 1996

Mike Stern does what he does very, very well. He has carved out a unique niche for himself among modern fusion guitarists, a vision that combines funk and R&B bass/drum grooves with skittish melodies often involving extended chord fragments. Stern's lead voice is one of the most distinctive in the genre as well, as his chorused and sometimes distorted tone is always prominently displayed. Stern is joined on this 1996 offering by frequent collaborator Bob Malach, a tenor player with a particular talent for laying screaming lines on top of smoking drum grooves as well as ably doubling and bringing to life Stern's often bookish and theoretical melodies. Completing the band are twin rhythm sections, consisting either of Dave Weckl and Jeff Andrews or Lincoln Goines and Dennis Chambers.

Like many of Stern's recordings, the problems lie generally in the sameness of the arrangements and the relatively forgettable nature of some of these songs. Although they are all thoughtfully composed, they sometimes tend to run together a bit in the mind of the listener.


1994
CD Is What It Is 1994

Mike Stern is one of the more creative fusion guitarists, playing with the power of rock but often taking sophisticated improvisations. On this passionate set (which consists of nine of his originals), Stern is joined by the keyboards of Jim Beard, bassist Will Lee, Dennis Chambers or Ben Perowsky on drums and (on three songs apiece) the tenors of Michael Brecker and Bob Malach. Overall this is one of Mike Stern's better recordings.


1993
CD Standards And Other Songs 1993

Guitarist Mike Stern, best-known for playing rock-oriented fusion and in more commercial settings, surprised many listeners by recording an album dominated by standards. Actually, there are three originals included among the 11 pieces, but Stern also digs into such songs as "Like Someone in Love," "Moment's Notice," Chick Corea's "Windows," and "Straight No Chaser." Among Stern's sidemen on this fairly straight-ahead but adventurous set are trumpeter Randy Brecker, Bob Berg on tenor, and keyboardist Gil Goldstein. This little-known release is well-worth acquiring.


1991
CD Odds Or Evens 1996

This is a powerhouse date of high-powered fusion, mixing together the sound of rock with the musicianship and improvising of jazz. With the assistance of tenor saxophonist Bob Berg, keyboardist Jim Beard and a rhythm section, guitarist Stern jams through a set of originals that serve as jumping-off devices for fairly long solos. The musicians really stretch themselves within the idiom and even the quieter numbers are full of intensity.


1989
CD Jigsaw 1989

This is a fairly typical Mike Stern fusion date, featuring his rocking guitar on seven of his pieces. Stern is joined by his usual sidemen -- tenor saxophonist Bob Berg, keyboardist Jim Beard, electric bassist Jeff Andrews, either Peter Erskine or Dennis Chambers on drums and percussionist Manolo Badrena -- and plays with plenty of fire, yet a good amount of restraint. Michael Brecker is a guest on "Chief," jamming on his fairly anonymous-sounding EWI. A decent effort, easily recommended to fans of the more adventurous rock guitarists.


1985
CD Neesha 1985

The debut recording by this former Miles Davis sideman incorporates many elements of jazz, most notably fusion.

This work also features David Sanborn.



Book The Best Of Mike Stern

17 guitar transcriptions with tab from this jazz guitarist who got his start playing with Miles Davis in the '80s. Includes: Chromozone * Little Shoes * Mood Swings * Nardis * Sunnyside * There Is No Greater Love * Wing and a Prayer * and more.



Book Mike Stern Guitar Transcriptions 1990

Artist Transcriptions One of the finest fusion players on today's music scene, this collection of guitar transcriptions contains his best work, including: After All, Before You Go, Little Shoes, Upside Downside, and many more. 80 pages



Book Original Scores Mike Stern 1992

Notes + tabs for: guitar, bass & drums



DVD Mike Stern Ultimate Play-Along

Ultimate Play-Along for Guitar has been developed so that the beginner to intermediate level guitarist can practice in different styles along with all-star musicians including Mike Stern on guitar, John Patitucci on bass and Dave Weckl on drums. This book and CDs package contains two CDs: the first disc contains seven complete rhythm tracks with the guitar melodies and solos, and the second CD contains the rhythm tracks minus the guitar. The book features complete transcriptions of all of Mike Stern's guitar parts and solos, as well as tear-out "roadmap" charts for each tune.



DVD Mike Stern Guitar Instructional Video 2001

Grammy-nominated jazz guitarist Mike Stern has been in the public eye (and ears) since he was a member of the Miles Davis Band in the early '80s. His prolific performances and recordings have earned him recognition as one of the best and most popular contemporary guitarists today. This, his first instructional DVD, includes 4 live performances by Mike and his band at the 55 Bar in New York City, the historical club in which Mike has played for over 15 years, accompanied by many great musicians, including Jaco Pastorius. Additionally, in an exclusive interview with New York-based jazz guitarist Satoshi Inoue, Stern offers his own analysis and explanation of each tune. The songs - a blues, a standard, a ballad, and a funk tune - were carefully selected by Mike himself in order to demonstrate every aspect of his guitar performance and techniques. He also gives insight into his background, influences and practice routines, and provides a thorough review of his gear configurations. Everything you need to know about this versatile guitar master! Includes lesson sheets. 1 hour, 6 minutes



DVD Live New Morning The Paris Concert 2004

Guitarist Mike Stern, a five-time GRAMMYr nominee and a pivotal figure in the later years of the Miles Davis saga, is regarded as one of the most innovative jazz musicians on any continent in the past three decades. A frequent world traveler, Stern took his trio to Europe, Asia and elsewhere throughout much of 2008 - an ambitious itinerary that included a memorable one-nighter at the New Morning, the longstanding and highly celebrated club in Paris, France. Backing Stern on this gig is the expert crew of saxophonist Bob Franceschini, bassist Tom Kennedy and incredible world renowned drummer Dave Weckl.



DVD Live New Morning The Paris Concert 2008

Recorded at the New Morning is Paris in 2004, this DVD features Stern's firey guitar work and Richard Bona's singing bass supported by legendary drummer, Dennis Chambers and brilliant tenor saxophonist, Bob Franceschini. The band brings forth lyricism that will sound irresistible to music lovers everywhere!



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