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Mike Stern: Give and Take

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Following a couple of successful romps in a fusionesque vein-including last year’s Grammy-nominated Between The Lines-guitarist Mike Stern is back on a more straight ahead track, swinging his ass off in such stellar company as Jack DeJohnette, John Patitucci, Michael Brecker, David Sanborn, Gil Goldstein and Don Alias. Produced by Goldstein, Give And Take is an accurate title for this highly interactive session of trios and quartets highlighting Stern’s incredibly fluid chops, his melodic penchant and capacity to scorch over bop changes with just a touch of nasty rock-fueled sting.

DeJohnette enlivens his seven tracks with a typically energized and elliptical approach, defining the beat by playing around it. He creates an especially loose-tight chemistry with Patitucci, heard here in a far more sparse and interactive role than his previous work with Chick Corea’s Akoustic Band. DeJohnette’s brushwork on the opener, a brisk rendition of Cole Porter’s “I Love You,” is restrained yet swinging while he summons up rolling waves of rhythm on a heightened “Giant Steps” and a blistering “Hook Up,” a Stern original based on “Alone Together” and featuring some muscular tenor playing from Brecker. The darkly alluring “Jones Street” is named for its allusions to Elvin Jones while the angular and buoyant “Lumpy” is Stern’s answer to Monk’s “Nutty.”

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