One of the hallmarks of a great jazz artist is versatility. Guitarist and bandleader John Stein is as agile and colorful as it gets, and he simply outdoes himself with each passing effort.
Raising The Roof, his latest, is without a doubt, Stein's most vibrant effort yet, boasting passion, intensity, and a lot of exhilarating musicianship. It features the same band members that worked with Stein on Encounterpoint, his successful and acclaimed 2008 release, including Koichi Sato on keyboards from Japan; John Lockwood on bass from South Africa; and Z Eduardo Nazario on drums from Brasil.
This internationalism has been another of Stein's distinctive signatures. Sato's sensitive accompaniment and virtuosic soloing adds richness and texture to Stein's compositions. His development, from recent Berklee grad to seasoned jazzer, has been one of the keys to Stein's success. The same can be said of bassist Lockwood, who demonstrates terrific versatility on the record as both a soloist and a member of the rhythm section with drummer Nazario. We heartily agree with liner note writer Ed Hazell who says Nazario is a virtuoso, of course, but he's never just about technique, there's a real depth of feeling in his playing."
Passion and credibility suffuses the work on Raising The Roof. From the opening notes on Horace Silver's Nica's Dream" to the closing whistle, Falling in Love with Love," the recording features nine substantial musical statements -- two of them originals -- all evidence that Stein is one of the premier jazz artists.
Other highlights include Antonio Carlos Jobim's intoxicating Vivo Sonhando," an inspired choice, but logical considering Stein's love of Brasilian jazz, and Bobby Timmons' Moanin'," featuring Nazario's unique and powerful rhythm arrangement. Nazario truly shines on Stein's original, Elvin!", dedicated to Elvin Jones. Sato blazes unbelievable and unique paths for himself on Elvin!", and lovingly introduces A Child Is Born," while Lockwood digs into incredibly melodic note choices and invents a bass part for Invitation" that is one of the album's highlights.
Stein, an internationally renowned jazz guitarist born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, is evolving nicely as a player and Raising The Roof is Exhibit A attesting to his growth. His talent and love for music ultimately led him to a faculty position at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he continues to inspire new musicians and perfect his own style. Over the years, John has performed as a leader or a sideman with some of America's finest jazz acts, including David Fathead" Newman, Larry Goldings, Lou Donaldson, Dr. Lonnie Smith, and Idris Muhammad, and his compositions and performances have covered a wide array of musical styles, from blues to bebop, and from bossa nova to swing. He has toured nationally, and internationally in South America and in Europe.
Raising The Roof will surely serve to enlarge his audience.