Mike Stern – Who Let The Cat’s Out?

Mike SternMike Stern
Who Let The Cat’s Out?
(Heads Up – 2006)
by Paula Edelstein

The premiere jazz guitarist, who make his Heads Up International label debut with this amazing CD, is on fire! He wrote all 11 tracks, rounded up such amazing players as Roy Hargrove, Bob Franceschini, Anthony Jackson, Meshell Ndegeocello, Richard Bona, Chris Minh doky, Dave Weckl, Victor Wooten, Kim Thompson, Gregoire Maret and Bob Malach to add their musical visions and you’d better believe, the result is a Mike Stern masterpiece. They blur the boundaries between jazz, funk, blues and rock on 11 “blowing vehicles” structured to showcase the guest artist’s chops as well as Mike’s own composing talents and guitar finesse.

Opening with “Tumble Home,” the band kicks off with a powerful funk vibe that features some great soloing by saxophonist Bob Franceschini. Next up is the powerful bluesy “KT,” which was written for drummer Kim Thompson. It’s awesome. Roy Hargrove will blow you away on this one and truly brings back memories of Miles Davis’ playing in 1981 with his comeback band that featured Stern, Marcus Miller, Al Foster, Bill Evans and Mino Cinelu. Mike is really doing his thing on “Good Question,” which features scatting by bassist Richard Bona in between Mike’s amazing guitar solo. Dave Weckl’s master drumming keeps the rhythm logic in place alongside Bona’s bass lines.

This set is tight but the title track is really burning up. Roy Hargrove and Bob Franceschini open, matching note-for-note at the head. Mike comes in on guitar and signs his name to a barrage of notes in a solo that you won’t forget anytime soon. He’s bending notes, stroking, trilling and his fretboard wizardry is absolutely amazing. Later in the song, Hargrove turns in another dynamic solo, his trumpet on fire. To close, Mike digs waaaaaaaaay down and stretches out on the power ballad “Blue Runway.” ROCKIN’ IT with some of Jimi Hendrix’s vintage riffs, Stern cuts loose and doesn’t stop for nearly nine minutes! Weckl’s drumming up a storm and Franceschini’s sax solo is one for the record books. This is an awesome song and you can just about imagine the head bopping on this one.

Every song on this CD is a hit because these cats can play! Who ever let them out…thank you. Top picks: The title track, “Blue Runway,” “KT,” “We’re With You,” and “Texas.”

Reprinted with permission of…