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CD Review: Mike Stern Band 'New Morning: The Paris Concert' DVD

Mike Stern shines on his
Mike Stern shines on his "New Morning" DVD. (By Clay Patrick Mcbride)
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Friday, May 15, 2009

MIKE STERN BAND "New Morning: The Paris Concert" Heads Up DVD

A YEAR AGO, when guitarist Mike Stern and his exceptionally tightknit band played a one-nighter at the New Morning club in Paris, the four-time Grammy nominee confirmed what many fans who've caught his shows at Blues Alley over the years already know: He thrives in a cozy concert setting.

Captured on a new, two-plus-hour DVD, Stern's evening in Paris is inspired by a mostly familiar collection of tunes, previously recorded compositions that allow plenty of room for shifting dynamics, spontaneous interplay and dramatic arcs. Indeed, all those qualities, along with a strong funk pulse and a remarkably fluid guitar improvisation, turn up on the opening track, "Tumble Home." It also prominently features Stern's powerhouse rhythm section (bassist Tom Kennedy and drummer Dave Weckl, who have been collaborating since they were teenage rs) and the formidable tenor saxophonist Bob Franceschini.

As the performance unfolds, Stern, a Miles Davis band alum, digs deep into his catalogue. He brings shimmering atmospherics to "Wishing Well," sleek melodicism to "What Might Have Been" (accented by Weckl's hand percussion) and soulfully revisits "Wing and a Prayer" with a big assist from Franceschini. The engaging and newly penned "That's All It Is" creates a playful interlude, with its blues riffs, funk beats and calypso flavoring.

Besides the music, the DVD includes a series of "soundcheck sketches" and a brief interview with Stern.

-- Mike Joyce

Appearing through Sunday at Blues Alley (202-337-4141, http://www.bluesalley.com). Shows start at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.

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