Jazz-fusion guitar wizard Mike Stern is joined by star drummer Dennis Chambers, sax player Bob Franceschini, and virtuoso bassist/vocalist Richard Bona for this spirited and quite rocking set recorded at the New Morning Club in Paris, France in 2004. Anyone who has seen Stern live knows that the guitarist can lay down some of the smoothest and most traditional sounding be-bob jazz around, but he can also rock out and scorch with plenty of rock firepower and intensity. Along with a fair amount of jazz and funk, Stern and his crew perform more of the latter on this particular show, serving up five lengthy pieces, most of which bring the crowd to their feet with the sheer amount of musical virtuosity that is on display. The near 20-minute opener "Play" is just that, an excuse for Stern to rampage about, first starting off with plenty of jazzy legato licks before kicking on the overdrive and wailing on some extended rock solos, all the while Bona keeping up with him every step of the way with amazing & intricate bass runs. Watching these two work side by side is a real treat, as they seem to have some sort of telepathic connection on a musical level. All four members get to lay down solos on this one, Chambers always impressive with his technical funk chops, Franceschini squonks away with fiery sax passages, and Bona blazes with an impeccable bass jaunt. Other than the mellow jazz ballad "Still There", which sees Bona add some tender vocals, the rest of this concert is raucous and fiery instrumental jazz-rock. "Slow Change" features some ferocious and distorted Stern sequences, and the funky fusion of "Tipatina's" let's Chambers once again show off his virtuoso talents. The encore "Ha Ha Hotel" is almost like a storming jam session, with all four players rocking and swinging, obviously having a great time.
As a bonus, there is a live clip from Vienna in 1990, with Stern joined by the late sax player Bob Berg, bassist Lincoln Goines, and Chambers, on the lovely Stern original "After You", and a 1996 clip from the New Morning seeing Stern, drummer Dave Weckl, Goines, and sax player Bob Sheppard doing their take on the Miles Davis classic "Jean-Pierre". An intimate conversation with the guitarist is also included, as he talks about his life and musical career, giving insight into his learning how to play the guitar, taking lessons from an 18 year old Pat Metheny, hooking up with Blood Sweat & Tears, and joining Miles Davis' band. For the jazz guitar fan, this is a must have DVD, and Mike Stern fans, well, you probably already have this on your radar screen. Essential.
2) Slow Change
3) Still There
5) Ha Ha Hotel
6) After Your (1990)-bonus
7) Jean-Pierre (1996)-bonus
8) In Conversation With Mike Stern