Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Mike Stern & Bill Evans: Old Friends & New Jazz

Russ Davis visits with the guitarist and saxophonist between sets at NYC’s Birdland

Mike Stern
Saxophonist Bill Evans

Neither rain, nor sleet, nor another frickin’ snowstorm during the winter of 2015 would stay this intrepid music-lover from making my way to the place billed as “The Jazz Corner Of The World,’ Birdland in midtown Manhattan. My plan was to spend some time with two of the finest people and players, as well as some of the greatest musicians of their generation, Mike Stern and Bill Evans, and their musical compatriots, drummer Steve Smith and bassist Tom Kennedy. Mike and Bill have great stories and make wonderful music. There would be plenty of both on this frozen night in New York.

Mike Stern and Bill Evans were already mature, established players when they met at various gigs in Boston and other nearby locations and then, in 1981, worked together as members of the Miles Davis band that marked his return to the public world of jazz. They’d talked even then about doing a project together and they finally got around to putting a band together some years ago and, luckily for us, they’ve taken time among the many, varied projects they are both constantly involved in to bring this great project to the people. Steve Smith, the leader of the great modern fusion group Vital Information and the drummer of the rock band Journey, as well as with other jazz projects such as Steps Ahead added his brilliant varied percussion and vocal expertise to the mix. To complete the rhythm section, and I use that term only because of the traditional designation of the drummer and bassist as such, was Tom Kennedy. Tom also played with Steps Ahead as well as with the likes of Joe Sample and David Sanborn and brought his distinctive six-sting bass to the party with great results in a supportive as well as lead role.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published