Mike Stern

COMPOSERS: Mike Stern
LABELS: Heads Up
ALBUM TITLE: Mike Stern
WORKS: Who let the Cats out?
PERFORMER: Mike Stern (guitar), Roy Hargrove
(trumpet), Bob Malach, Bob Franceschini
(sax), Jim Beard (keyboards),
Richard Bona (bass, vocals), Meshell
Ndegeocello, Victor Wooten, Anthony
Jackson, Chris Minh Doky (bass);
Kim Thompson, Dave Weckl (d
CATALOGUE NO: HUCD 3115
Stern’s long tenure with Atlantic Records has finally come to an end and he’s now with the independent label Heads Up, but stalwart producer and keyboardist Jim Beard is still on board and his astute nipping and tucking has again propelled the guitarist into his best and most engaging form. Who Let The Cats Out?, Stern’s 15th album, is a thoroughly entertaining and classy jazz-rock-pop record, stacked with smart tunes, excellent playing and a trimmed and toned range of settings – the slinky funk of ‘KT’ mingles with the disguised bebop of ‘Leni Goes Shopping’ and the winsome balladry of ‘We’re With You’. Stern has long since smoothed away some of the electric excesses of his youthful work as a Miles Davis sideman and an emerging solo artist in his own right during the 1980s, but his best improvising here has a point and vigour which lends real musical muscle to tracks which Beard has deftly orchestrated for crossover appeal. Best of both worlds, you might say. Richard Cook

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