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Mike Stern: All Over the Place

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When JazzTimes reviewed Mike Stern’s previous release in 2009, our critic was not overly enthused, concluding with the comment that “Perhaps with better sequencing and a solid band, Big Neighborhood … might not seem so all over the place.” Well, the guitarist must not be too offended by that last phrase, because his latest release uses it as its title and celebrates that very multifariousness.

And Stern’s got a point: He does-on this album and several others preceding it-tend to jump around stylistically. He’s a mover, not one to pick a place to go and relax there. And he likes using a supersized cast of players to help him make those moves. In that sense, All Over the Place continues where Big Neighborhood and 2006’s Who Let the Cats Out? left off. Several of Stern’s collaborators here have partnered with him previously-bassists Anthony Jackson, Victor Wooten, Esperanza Spalding and Richard Bona, keyboardist/producer Jim Beard and drummer Dave Weckl among them-and while others are new to Stern’s orbit, he utilizes them the same way he does the returnees, drawing them into his groove and then letting them loose to affix their own shapes and colors to his creations.

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