For someone with the performing and recording credits that can be found on Mike Stern’s CV he is not that well known. His guitar playing was an integral part in the music of several big name bands that he was part of: Blood Sweat & Tears, Billy Cobham Band and the Miles Davis Group. When I bought this album I knew I was in for a treat and it did not disappoint! I listened to it before having read the back cover or the booklet and was immediately impressed with his playing. I also loved the bass parts and was not surprised to find out that some of the guest musicians on the album were Dave Holland and Victor Bailey. Some good trumpet work by Randy Brecker and appearances by Dave Weckl, Esperanza Spalding, Richard Bona and Al Foster (who also played with Miles Davis) make this a star studded collection. Maybe as a result of having all these accomplished musicians on the CD, but possibly a deliberate choice, there is a variety of musical styles present: Funk, World, Ballads and Blues can all be found here.
The track below is an African flavoured one with Randy Brecker on trumpet and Lauri Stern (Mike’s wife) on N’goni Ba, a Malian string instrument that she picked up when playing with Salif Keita. I don’t think she was in the band when I saw Salif Keita perform in Lusaka last year, but I’ll have a look through my pictures.