John Stein – Raising The Roof

John Stein
Raising The Roof
Whaling City – 2009

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 2008 release, including Koichi Sato on keyboards from Japan; John Lockwood on bass from South Africa; and Ze 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.

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, “Elvint”, 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.