You won’t hear a fresher, more poignant, jazz energy anywhere else on the planet today. This one gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me, as well as the “PICK” of this issue for “best guitar jazz” album.
Dick Metcalf aka Rotcod Zzaj
John Stein . . . the poet of the classical jazz guitar.
Dick Crockett “The Voice” – 88.7fm
John Stein is one of the great guitarists, in the tradition of Joe Pass and Tal Farlow. Raising The Roof proves my point!
Ron Della Chiesa – WPLM, 99.1 fm
What a gift this man has. He’s in an elite class: a mere handful of jazz guitarists who consistently put taste above chops and flash. John Stein has the ability to say so much more with less effort than most of his contemporaries can muster.
Wayne Everett Goins, KC JAM
Stein has the touch – a bond with the guitar that only comes from deep spiritual dedication to those strings. Playing a collection of songs so sweetly is a sign of pure musical intelligence.
Layla Macoran – Jazz Inside New York
His guitar work steals the show. Even though he’s all about understatement, pulling out poignant lines and complex, Joe Pass-like chordal journeys, Stein simply can’t help but impress.
Jim Allen – LimeWire Store
John Stein is one of the finest jazz guitarists you’ll ever hear, with beautiful touch, tone, swing, detail, and emotion. He is what you might call deep mainstream, surprising at every turn with familiar material. Working with a clean, undistorted classic jazz-guitar sound, he renders maximum swing and expression. There’s a wealth of detail – the dips and turns of phrases, accents falling like words – that he gets at even the fastest tempos.
Jon Garelick – The Boston Phoenix
Stein never plays a line or phrase because his fingers tell him to, every line and chord has the sense of being carefully chosen and played with confidence and precision. There is a solid focus on the melody, his love of rhythmic variety is immediately evident and above all, any advanced harmonic or melodic application is done with the greatest care and utmost intent. There’s a strong sense that his ears are guiding his notes, not his technique, which is something that can only come from spending as many years on the bandstand as Stein has. Raising the Roof is a hard-swinging and thoroughly enjoyable album. Featuring an all-star quartet . . . the group plays together with a sense of cohesion that borders on the realm of ESP.
Dr. Matt Warnock, All About Jazz
HI FLY: I’ve reviewed a LOT of John’s superb jazz guitar work . . . his playing gets better every time I hear new works from him. On this outing he’s joined by bassist John Lockwood, drummer Ze Eduardo Nazario, & a fantastic keyboardist, Jake Sherman. 10 absolutely high-energy tracks that will have jazz lovers the world ’round spinning them over & over again! One of my favorites was the bouncy “Skippin’.” The thing that’s most notable on this cut is that it sounds like each of the players is talking to the others – tasty, indeed! It was the closer, “Funkin’ It Up” that stood out as my favorite piece, though – call/response in perfection! John & crew get a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me – AND, they get the “PICK” of this issue for “coolest guitar jazz CD.”
Rotcod Zzaj (Dick Metcalf)
John Stein’s Hi Fly is a wonderful production with deliciously accessible jazz. The album has flowing, graceful guitar, solid drumming, sparkling keys, and supple, supportive bass. What more could you want?
Hessel Fluitman, Jazzflits Magazine
Stein is making inroads in jazz circles with one straight ahead album after another.
George Fendel, Jazz Society of Oregon
Hi Fly is guitarist John Stein’s third recording with bassist John Lockwood and drummer Ze Eduardo Nazario. Keyboard player Jake Sherman adds his own flair to the band’s arrangements, creating a soaring musical experience that expands on elements of jazz with a strong vibe of pure joy. Hi Fly is a pleasure to experience, brimming with energy to recharge the listener after a long day, and highly recommended.
Midwest Book Review
Jazzbo guitar man Stein has mastered the sound that once took us to clip joints and dives to hear the sound of the night. The cat and his crew are on fire.
Chris Spector, Midwest Record
John Stein is one of the best contemporary jazz guitarists. The logic of his music is akin to the perfectly correct structural lattice of a diamond, and like those gems, Stein’s music is illuminated by equally deep, strong light.
Leonid Auskern, Jazz-Quadrat Magazine
Jazz fans will no doubt enjoy the fresh arrangements given to classic jazz standards, but it is the original material that really provides an inside look into Stein’s artistic process and compositional output. They are recognizable as a Stein composition right from the opening notes. Being able to write in different styles, yet maintain a personalized stamp on any composition, is the mark of an experienced, well-developed writing style, something that Stein possess and uses as the foundation for each of the original tracks on the record.
Matt Warnock, Guitar International
Encounterpoint is the best way to describe the music created by these four great musicians. To make the best music is the point on each one’s mind, and in spite of the fact that they are from different countries their encounter was possible and successful. The result is a dynamic jazz quartet playing a sophisticated blend of jazz classics, Brazilian classics, and originals by John Stein. The conception of the group is unique. Each track brings a different rhythm approach, new arranging ideas, and improvisations that flow naturally. And all of this was recorded and mixed very well.
Alfredo Cardim, Pianist/Composer
The new John Stein recording, Encounterpoint, is full of delightful music. The program is balanced with familiar classic tunes to not-so-familiar, but the performance is accessible and very musical.
Rufus Reid, Bassist/Composer/Educator
On Encounterpoint, a nicely balanced set of 4 original tunes and 5 standards, a bright, modern sound is evoked from this truly international band (Koichi Sato from Japan on keyboards; John Lockwood, originally from South Africa on bass; and Zé Eduardo Nazario from Brasil on drums). Sato’s keyboard work, featuring Fender Rhodes and synth organ on this set rather than acoustic piano, contrasts nicely with Stein’s warm, round tone on the guitar. This is music making at its best – an enjoyable new endeavor from John Stein and company that is truly fresh sounding while still really swinging.
Dr. Brad Stone, Music Director, KSJS fm, San Jose
On Green Street, John Stein set out to pay homage to Grant Green, the ’60s organ trio and the Rudy Van Gelder sound that captured so many of the classic albums of this genre. As icing on the cake, he added the great David “Fathead” Newman’s flute, alto, and tenor on several tracks. This is an excellent album filled with many delights. It’s a joy to hear how the group blends like they’ve been on the road for years. Ken Clark’s organ pedal bass and Dave Hurst’s ride cymbal lock in to keep the music moving effortlessly. One key to its success is that it is an homage, not an overly-wrought re-enactment. This is music happening now with a nod to a wonderful era.
Michael Cuscuna, Mosaic Records
John Stein knows how to groove. His guitar work is always tasty – when comping behind soloists as well as when taking his improvisations. Like his playing, Stein’s compositions display a lack of vanity and are interesting without being overly busy. The choice of instrumentation and different instrumental combinations keeps his latest release, Concerto Internacional de Jazz, constantly fresh and entertaining.
Dave Miele, Jazz Improv Magazine
Stein fills each piece with sensual guitar melodies that flow seamlessly like a Brazilian summer breeze. He explores each melodic reference passionately but gently, pulling substance from the air and cementing it as if his lyrical building blocks were made from palm fronds.
Jim Santella, All About Jazz
Concierto Internacional de Jazz demonstrates Stein’s tremendous flexibility and musicality on electric guitar, playing with the tasteful edge of Jim Hall, and the strength of his Brazilian rhythm section.
Chris M. Slawecki, All About Jazz
Concierto Internacional de Jazz is mainstream contemporary jazz played by a blend of U.S. and Brazilian musicians who speak the same musical language. Stein’s unfailingly melodic yet solidly driving guitar lines push the entire ensemble always forward, with strong and tasteful support from the Brazilian musicians who bring an innate sensitivity to sensuous dance rhythms and a subtly syncopated sense of melancholy.
Jon Lehman, The Patriot Ledger
John’s playing has always been noteworthy, but this recording presents a very mature and sophisticated player. Interplay is worthy of multiple listenings, as these pieces are played beautifully.
Francis A. Forte, M.D., Just Jazz Guitar
Interplay – Ah! Another great CD by John Stein. There are just a handful of guitarists who play these great tunes on the level of John Stein. It’s such a nice trio where everybody is a contributor.
Jerry Atkins, KTXK fm, National Public Radio
Stein has a quiet and appealing sound and, as with Lockwood and Israel, he is expert at leaving space and making every note count.
Scott Yanow, All Music Guide
He (Stein) wrings more expression out of a melodic line then most other guitarists.
Aaron Steinberg, JazzTimes
Stein’s most recent disc (Interplay) shows a quietly melodic, harmonically sophisticated voice of his own.
Bill Beuttler, The Boston Globe
I’ve always been attracted by the music John sent me. I appreciate and like his approach to composing. He writes simple but clever and effective things. His tunes are beautiful miniatures, and seem to be fun to blow on. I like the honesty of his tone, phrasing and musical ideas. That’s why I think his projects fit nicely into the JARDIS repertoire.
Heiner Franz, President Jardis Records