Chip Stern

Chip’s Contributions


April 2001    Audio Files

Bob Cranshaw: Shop Talk

“Tune and tempo,” Jo Jones used to tell me. “That’s all it is. Why do cats want to make it so hard? It isn’t hard—it’s easy.” Such are the simple verities of the jazz rhythm section as passed down by one of the masters, but these days we tend to pay more...


March 2001    Gearhead

Grow Your Own Studio

Marantz PMD 430 Professional Portable Cassette Recorder Audio-Technica AT822 Condenser Stereo Microphone Audio-Technica ATH-M40fs Precision Studiophones Superscope PSD230 Performing Arts Portable CD Player I can’t tell you how many times I’ve attended a...


March 2001    Features

John Scofield: Will the Real John Scofield Please Stand Up?

People mean well, but in their haste to ascribe predictable, quantifiable attributes to musicians, they inevitably succumb to the temptation to shoehorn them into neat little bags—all the more convenient to circumscribe, categorize and contract. When it...

January/February 2001    Gearhead

The Well-Synthesized Piano

Should I be surprised by the aesthetic ambivalence even devoted creative electronic musicians feel toward synthesizers? Hardly. Being as jazz is music of spontaneous self-expression, the instrument that offers the most direct path to emotional fulfillment...


January/February 2001    Audio Files

Lyle Mays: Shop Talk

Lyle Mays, both in tandem with Pat Metheny and on his two mid-’80s outings as a leader for Geffen (Lyle Mays and Street Dreams), has perfected a unique keyboard style, with supple synthesized sounds emanating out from the acoustic epicenter of a seven-foot...


November 2000    Gearhead

Drum Crazy: Gearhead Bangs His Sticks on New Drum Equipment

NAMM on the Run Traversing the corridors of the Summer 2000 NAMM Show in Nashville, Tenn., I was suitably impressed by a number of kits I played in a cursory manner which certainly rate an audition on your part if you’re in the market for a new drum set...


November 2000    Gearhead

Shop Talk: Billy Higgins

Few drummers possess a more distinctive sound signature than Billy Higgins. A true virtuoso of rhythm, texture and tone, he is among the most joyous, swinging drummers in the history of American music—and he’s a consummate team player. Coming of age in the...


October 2000    Gearhead

Clark Terry, Terence Blanchard, Ron Miles & Doc Cheatham: Brass Fantasy

Around Christmas, 1991: “Yeaaah,” Dizzy Gillespie says to me, fingering the valves of his trumpet. “When she gets broken in a few weeks down the road, this is going to be a nice horn.” “Sounds like she blows real easy, Diz,” I say. He fixes me with a stagey...


September 2000    Gearhead

Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow: The Evolution of Archtop Guitars

When I first brought my Johnny Smith Gibson to luthier James L. “Jimmy” D’Aquisto’s Farmingdale, Long Island, workshop in 1973 for a fret job, it was the beginning of a lifetime friendship that cemented my fascination with the archtop guitar, an instrument...

September 2000    Features

Thirty Years of Our JazzTimes: The 70s

We can start the process of fishing for metaphors to explicate the 1970s by enunciating the dreaded, one-size-fits-all epithet that both categorizes an amorphous emerging style and misrepresents the decade’s achievements: fusion. Aaaaahhhh—there, I said...


July/August 2000    Gearhead

Darkness on the Edge of Tone or Do Jazz Guitarists Know How Bad They Really Sound?

A couple of years ago the editor-in-chief of Guitar World contacted me about the possibility of penning an article he wanted written on “Why Jazz Guitar Sucks.” Well, given the infinitesimal coverage that his publication afforded to anyone besides flavor...


July/August 2000    Gearhead

Shop Talk: Jimmy Bruno & Joe Beck

On their Concord release Polarity, these master players have crafted a unique two-guitar recital that differs substantially from most genre recordings by virtue of how different they sound from each other, and the manner in which they stay out of each other’s...


June 2000    Gearhead

James Carter Blows Through Saxophone History

Sonorous metal blowing martial sounds. —John Milton, Paradise Lost Once in a phone conversation with Sonny Rollins, James Carter’s name came up and suddenly Brother Theodore’s voice turned real sunny. “Yeaaaaah,” Rollins enthused in that gruff, Dudley Do...


April 2000    Gearhead

Bass Is the Place

Once upon a time, at a forgotten NAMM Show in Anaheim, I was wandering the portals of the convention center when I unexpectedly encountered one of my heroes, master bassist Ray Brown, demonstrating one of Polytone’s popular little bass amps. I wanted to...


July/August 1999    Features

Jim Hall: The Emperor of Cool

I feel that jazz is not so much a style as a process of making music. –Bill Evans Jim is from a generation where people are very, very…I don’t want to say close-minded—but very much set in their ways and established, and have firmly established the way they...


June 1999    Cuba

Paquito D'Rivera: New Worlds, Old Worlds

Listening to Paquito D’Rivera’s Grammy Award winning collaboration with the gifted composer/arranger Carlos Franzetti (Portraits of Cuba Chesky JD145) on the bus ride over to New Jersey, I’m impressed anew by the uncompromising depth and breadth of this...

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