Another Xorg Collective works outing last week, once again to Ronnie Scott's in Frith Street, to see The Mike Stern Band. Spiffing! (but half a point deducted because they didn't play an encore as they had a plane to catch).
For those of you who don't know who he is Mike Stern has been around for ages, having played guitar for Miles Davis, The Brecker Brothers, Billy Cobham, Jaco Pastorius, David Sanborn, and many more. He's also done innumerable sessions for various people, and briefly had Pat Metheny as a tutor while he was at Berklee Music College. So, you can figure that the music is pretty much jazz fusion but with some softer melodic elements and tones included.
The line-up was completed by: Dave Weckl on drums; Randy Brecker on trumpet; and Chris Minh Doky on bass. It is most unusual to find a band which features guitar and trumpet as the lead instruments. Of course, Mike Stern took most of the solos but Mr Brecker also did his thing and he is quite phenomenal; he sits there looking all chilled out and almost asleep then when the time comes he slowly gets up and then plays notes which come from nowhere I know. He uses an electro-harmoniser as well which produces a fantastic effect, set at different intervals - sometimes on a Fourth and sometimes on a Second (I think). I dunno how he does it but it sounds remarkable.
Dave Weckl seems to be a serious kind of a fellow, whose faced cracked into a smile only once, towards the end of the second set. But he sure can twiddle those paradiddles. The bass player, Chris Minh Doky, who was previously unknown to me, was pretty good as well - he didn't overdo the statistical density of his solos. The striking thing though was that the whole band were enjoying themselves and you could feel the connections between them in their playing. Which is what it is all about.
Bonus points to the band for friendliness towards the crowd.
Addendum: As usual, negative marks for Ronnie's for their policy of automatically adding a 12.5% 'discretionary service charge' to the cost of drinks, even if you get them yourself from the bar. And they need to do something about the inadequate toilets.