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Stein Leads the Way
Guitarist and Quartet Up Their Game on the vibrant new Bing Bang Boom!
From the hip-hopping groove of “Sugar,” the first track on John Stein‘s newest work, to the swinging jazz waltz of the Cole Porter track that ends the album, Bing Bang Boom! is as complete and satisfying an album as Stein has yet recorded.
Why is this? It can be explained in several ways. First, Stein has given himself ample time to gel with his terrific band. Bing Bang Boom! is the fourth release in Stein’s quartet series and it is rare these days for a band leader to have this luxury. The time he has spent recording with his collaborators really pays off. Brazilian drummer Zé Eduardo Nazario, Berklee ingenue, keyboardist Jake Sherman, and acoustic bassist John Lockwood, one of the finest on the instrument in the entire Northeast, allow Stein to really settle into a creative pocket and cultivate the fluid and adventurous sounds coming from his guitar.
Given such familiar and comforting surroundings, Stein can experiment. Songs that are accustomed to sounding one way, arrive very differently in the hands of Stein and company. “Sugar,” for example, doesn’t reflect the original Turrentine shuffle, “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To” is treated as a fast waltz, “Delilah” appears as a Brazilian maracatu, “Lover” moves back and forth between a Brazilian Afoché rhythm and fast swing.
Stein also proposes strong compositional vehicles for his band mates, with half of the material on the recording penned by him. The tunes cover the terrain of modern jazz: from the bluesy jazz-rock of the title tune through forays in samba, swing, and modal jazz.
In fact, Stein uses his quartet as an elastic boundary. Sherman, Lockwood, and Nazario blend beautifully when given the chance. And Stein allows them generous opportunities to stretch out on their own; Sherman’s spot on “Chelsea Bridge,” for example, certainly belies his youthful age, as does all his work here. Lockwood’s solo on Stein’s own “Unraveled Plans” (a fittingly titled cut!), and his intro on “Delilah” are melodious sounds to behold. Stein’s connection with Nazario, himself a legend in his native Brazil, is the musical equivalent of a warm embrace, and it serves as a safety net for the guitarist. Wherever Stein chooses to stray, there is Nazario, ready to catch him. Nazario’s percussion cushion is, in itself, a marvel and worthy of its own concentrated attention.
Bing Bang Boom! is the fourth album from Stein’s quartet and it validates the journey and gives a fine indication of what’s to come. Once a band leader allows for consistency and growth across this amount of time, the dividends are surely going to pay off. Kudos to Stein and his band for hanging with it long enough to get to this brilliant point, and to Whaling City Sound, Stein’s label, for nurturing the organic unfolding artistic process of four brilliant musicians.
New Distributor for Whaling City Sound!
Effective February 1, 2013, Naxos of America, Inc. will become the exclusive distributor of all Whaling City Sounds titles in the United States & Canada. Effective February 1, 2013, all orders and returns of Whaling City Sounds product will be processed by Naxos of America, Inc. We are looking forward to launching a successful business relationship with John Stein’s Bing Bang Boom 2/26/2013 release.
Naxos of America, Inc.
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Phone: 615.771.9393 * Fax: 615.771.6747