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Mike Stern — These Times (2004)

Mike Stern These Times 
Birth name: Mike Sedgwick
Born: January 10, 1953, Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Genres: Jazz, jazz fusion, post-bop
Occupations: Songwriter, musician
Instruments: Guitar
Notable instruments: Yamaha PA511MS, Fender Telecaster
Location: dze bydliš? Žikaj!
Album release: January 13, 2004
Record Label: ESC Records
Duration:     67:48
01. Chatter      6:11
02. Silver Lining      6:37
03. I Know You      5:08
04. Mirage      6:47
05. If Only      5:32
06. Street Rhyme      6:39
07. Avenue B      6:15
08. Remember (for Bob Berg)      6:05
09. These Times      8:14
10. What You Believe      6:48
11. Last One Down      5:32
Mike Stern - guitar
Richard Bona - vocals, bass & percussion
Kenny Garrett - soprano & alto saxophone
Vinnie Colaiuta - drums
Will Lee - bass
Dennis Chambers - drums
Victor Wooten - bass
Jim Beard - piano, organ & synthesizers
Bob Franceschini - tenor saxophone
Bob Malach - tenor saxophone
Bela Fleck - banjo
Elizabeth Kontomanou - vocals
Arto Tuncboyaclyan - percussion
Don Alias - percussion
Jon Herington - additional rhythm guitars
≈  2004  Top Jazz Albums      #11
Website: http://www.mikestern.org/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mikestern0
Personal life:
≈  Stern was born Mike Sedgwick in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Helen Burroughs and Henry Dwight Sedgwick V. He is the half-brother of actress Kyra Sedgwick; his full sister, Holly, is the mother of actor Philip Nozuka and singers George Nozuka, Justin Nozuka, and Henry Nozuka. Stern is married to guitarist and vocalist Leni Stern.
≈  This album has a little bit of everything for a music lover.  Funky jazz soul, world music, bebop guitar, a little dab of everything. What holds it all together is that Stern is consistently melodic in his phrasing. At times this album shimmers as the layers of sound including wordless vocals from Richard Bona and Elizabeth Kontomanou mix with the other instruments seamlessly.  Amazon. com   

Review by Jonathan Widran
≈  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. Bona adds the same touch in a gentler way to the lush romance of "I Know You," featuring a soft-spoken harmony line by guest star banjo great Béla Fleck. This sequence of tunes sets the tone of the rest of the disc, which mixes more Khan-flavored gems (the colorful singalong "Mirage," featuring vocals by Elisabeth Kontomanou), soft ballads, and a sexy midtempo funk number that (gasp!) might translate to the smooth jazz format. Another highlight is the punchy bebop number "Remember," dedicated to Stern's longtime collaborator the late Bob Berg. Perhaps the only drawback is having Garrett on hand but only featuring him on three numbers.
Biography   by Gregory McIntosh
≈  Recognized as one of the finest guitarists among his peers, Mike Stern was born on January 10, 1953, in Boston, MA, but grew up in Washington, D.C., before returning to Boston to study at the Berklee School of Music. Stern was only 22 when he joined Blood, Sweat & Tears, for whom he played three years before signing on with Billy Cobham's jazz fusion outfit, which led to Stern's big breakthrough when Miles Davis enlisted him as guitarist for Davis' return from a five-year musical hiatus in 1981. Stern played and recorded with Davis until 1983, when Stern toured with Jaco Pastorius, but he rejoined Davis in 1985, which also brought about Stern's debut release as a leader, the warmly received Neesh. This time, Stern remained with Davis for a year, after which he cycled through projects by David Sanborn and Steps Ahead while simultaneously recording his follow-up to Neesh, titled Upside Downside, which marked his first release for Atlantic Records' jazz division. Stern continued a steady string of releases for Atlantic over the next few years while continuing to play with several other projects, including Michael Brecker and the reunited Brecker Brothers, eventually scoring his first Grammy nomination with the release of Is What It Is in 1994, then garnering another nomination for his 1996 follow-up, Between the Lines. Stern received his third Grammy nod for his 2001 release Voices, which was Stern's first recording with vocals -- albeit wordless vocalese -- and also marked the end of his tenure with Atlantic. Stern issued his debut album for ESC in early 2004, and two years later, with a cast of impressive backing musicians (Richard Bona, Me'Shell NdegéOcello, Roy Hargrove, and Kim Thompson, among others), Who Let the Cats Out was released.
Instruments, amplifiers, effects:
≈  An early and important guitar for Stern was a hybrid 1950s/1960s Fender Telecaster, previously owned by Roy Buchanan and Danny Gatton, which was stolen from him in an armed robbery in Boston. This guitar is the basis for a custom-made guitar built by Boston-based luthier Michael Aronson, which has a Telecaster style body with an original 1950's Broadcaster neck. There is a Seymour Duncan humbucker in the neck position and a Bill Lawrence single coil in the bridge.
≈  The Aronson guitar is in turn the basis for the Yamaha PA511MS, the Mike Stern signature model. The neck position pickup is a Seymour Duncan '59 and it has a Tele Hot Rail in the bridge.
≈  Stern uses Fender nickel-wound strings, .011 - .038.
≈  Stern uses a pair of Fender '65 Twin Reverb amps.
≈  Stern's highly recognizable chorused sound is created in part by a Yamaha SPX-90, split for stereo. He uses two Boss DD-3 digital delays, one of which is set to a long delay time for "big, spacey sounds." His distortion pedal is a Boss DS-1.
Discography as leader:
≈  Neesh (1983)
≈  Upside Downside (1986)
≈  Time in Place (1988)
≈  Jigsaw (1989)
≈  Odds or Evens (1991)
≈  Standards and Other Songs (1992)
≈  Is What It Is (1994)
≈  Between the Lines (1996)
≈  Give and Take (1997)
≈  Play (1999)
≈  Voices (2001)
≈  These Times (2004)
≈  Who Let the Cats Out? (2006)
≈  Big Neighborhood (2009)
≈  All Over the Place (2012)

Mike Stern — These Times (2004)