The Thursday evening that I spoke with Mr. Stern, he was either on the way from or trying to rest from the hectic schedule of recording new compositions or touring around the world. This evening he was happy to talk about his music career, the experience playing with Miles Davis, his musical heroes, being sober well over a decade and counting, and family. He sounded tired, but he still was gracious and inviting to this fellow musician that was and still is enamored of his playing. We spoke for most of the evening about his new DVD which features such great musicians as Dave Weckl on Drums, Tom Kennedy on Electric Bass, Bob Franceschini on Saxophone, and Mike Stern on Electric Guitar. We spoke about what a great cast of characters he had assembled for this recording date, the original tunes, and their influences.
The vibe created by the band on stage seemed effortless and very comfortable from the first tune of the set "Tumble Home", all the way to the last number "Chromazone." You can tell that the group was seasoned and well acquainted. Each member had an enduring association with Mike from back in the day. When asking Stern about the chemistry that the band had on stage his reply was,
"Chemistry, well this band is a great grouping of authenticity. Authentic love of the music is important when you perform for an audience. The audience can tell when you aren’t being truthful with yourself or more importantly with them. Each member of the band has a real love of music and I truly believe that music should come straight from the heart."
When watching the DVD you can tell that Stern has been influenced by some really great musicians that are still here on earth and some great musical legends that have past on to the great festival in the sky. You can see and hear him being hugely influenced by musical legends such as Miles Davis, Wes Montgomery, B.B. King, Jimi Hendrix, to name a few, in his every performance. So, what does Stern want people to walk away with after they see him perform,
"When I was performing with Miles he would always say ‘You might catch some one tonight’. I want the music to connect to people reach people every time I or my group performs. I want them to walk away with the same joy, hope and love that I put into my music."
With some one of Stern’s stature, you have to truly admire his talent, his ability to communicate a beautiful line, his talent for writing great songs, his indomitable spirit to over come drug addiction, and above all his love for life and music. During the interview Mike spoke candidly about his family & life. When asked about inspiration to create and grow as a musician he attributed a great majority to his mother, a classically trained pianist, who played a huge role in his musical maturation, along with his adoring wife Leni that has been by his side, for the ride, for the past 30 years.
"I have found that life influences music, and that it is not just music influencing other music. I’ve learned from music and life that you should be positive, and that the deeper you get into the music, it allows you the ability to appreciate art and all other forms of expression."
With this new concert DVD "New Morning-The Paris Concert" and his soon to be released LP "Big Neighborhood" through Heads Up Records, Stern has knowingly or unknowingly followed in the footsteps of his mentor/former bandleader Miles Davis. Like Miles he has continued to be in the vanguard leading the way for the innovation and progress of jazz music over 5 continents for the last 3 decades. This progress has been evident in every CD, DVD, and live performance that Stern is part of. No longer can his success be soli attributed to these great musical association with the likes of Miles, Brecker, Henderson, Cobham but rather he has become the association to be made with. Stern has pasted from the status of great side-man into the status of jazz great during the past 30 years. "New Morning - The Paris Concert DVD" is a documentation of what Miles Davis once called his "Fat Time" referring to Stern’s ability to interpret any groove or tempo into a lay back swinging solo. Again Stern has delivered the "Fat Time."