17th June 2009 — Five-time GRAMMY® nominated guitarist Mike Stern’s music has always come from a colorful and diverse part of town – a place where numerous artistic styles converge to create a fresh sound that’s rooted in jazz but refuses to adhere to rigid borders. Since his earliest recordings, this former bandmate of Miles Davis, Jaco Pastorius, Billy Cobham and other high-profile innovators has grafted elements of rock, blues, soul and more to his solid jazz foundations. On Stern’s street, anybody who brings a sense of energy, eclecticism and passion to the craft of music is welcome to play.
Stern invites fans and newcomers alike into his rich and diverse little corner of the world with the August 11, 2009, worldwide release of Big Neighborhood (HUCD 3157) on Heads Up International, a division of Concord Music Group. Aiding Stern in this latest chapter of his never-ending quest for the new and better groove is a long list of talented guests: guitarists Steve Vai and Eric Johnson; bassist-vocalists Esperanza Spalding and Richard Bona; jamband godfathers Medeski Martin & Wood; drummers Dave Weckl, Terri Lyne Carrington, Cindy Blackman and Lionel Cordew; bassists Chris Minh Doky and Lincoln Goines, and several others.
With a crew this large and diverse, the idea of the album title should be pretty clear, says Stern. “Music is like a big neighborhood – a place where anything and everything can happen,” he explains. “You can find all kinds of things in a big neighborhood – all kinds of different people, all kinds of different ideas and perspectives, and of course, all kinds of different sounds.”
With all of this going on in a single recording, Stern’s primary objective was to capture the energy as live as possible, with few if any overdubs. This was no easy task, as a few of the artists had schedules that prohibited meeting in a central location. Consequently, while Stern was able to record a good part of the album in his hometown of New York City, he had to travel (with rhythm section) to Austin, Texas to record with Eric Johnson, and then to Los Angeles to record with Steve Vai and Dave Weckl. In the end, the album’s eleven tracks came together in a neighborhood that spans two coasts with a stop in the Lone Star State.