doin' what he does best

Is What It Is (Atlantic Jazz)

Mike Stern

By Todd Hildreth

Mike Stern has been a leading figure in jazz fusion now for several years, having played with Miles Davis, Michael Brecker and others. His sound is a distinctive mix of bebop, funk and rock. While not having the depth of John Scofield or Pat Metheny, or the creativity of Bill Frisell, he is a skilled soloist and a clever composer. Recently, he's been applying his skill towards standards in a trio setting, but this CD is the stuff that put him on the map: high gloss, super-chops fusion.

And when you want super-chops fusion, who better to get on sax than Michael Brecker? Dennis Chambers on drums? Will Lee on bass? Jim Beard on keys? Yes, everything's in order here.

Stern works more from formula than inspiration. His playing is immediately recognizable, not because of its personality, but because, well, he plays a lot of the same licks. His compositions also use a lot of the same devices. He's a man of few ideas, but he uses them well. If you like what Mike Stern does, here's more of it. Enjoy.