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A Night To Be Remembered…The Mike Stern Quintet At The Velvet Note

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JGT Contributor Tony Wasilewski shares his observations of The Mike Stern Quintet at The Velvet Note in Alpharetta, Georgia, June 25, 2022.  

On the stage from left to right, Leni Stern, Mike’s wife and superb musician/composer. Edmond Gilmore, electric bass. Then the Maestro himself Mike Stern with his Yamaha guitar and dual Fender Twin amps. Cliff Almond sat at the drum set and on the far right, Danny Walsh, “the best sax player on the Jersey Shore”. Gilmore and Almond couldn’t have been a better rhythm section (true groove meisters) and laid down some great solos. Walsh, with his fluid melodies, gorgeous tone and improvisational technique showed that his excellence ranges far beyond Joe Pops Shore Bar on Long Beach Island, N.J. Mrs. Stern, besides playing electric guitar, singing and contributing songs, also played the N’goni, the traditional guitar of Mali to beautiful effect. So, this show confirmed a characteristic I had noticed at an earlier Mike Stern show in Nashville: he surrounds himself with massively talented and interesting players. And why not as it provides a wonderful sonic showcase for his own superlative musical genius?

And genius it was that filled the 40-seat venue located on the northside of the Atlanta Metro. Mike’s jazz sensibilities and his well-known rock attack delighted the packed house with the clear tones of the Fenders blending nicely with the acoustics of the small room.  And need it be mentioned that there could hardly be a larger or better-played pedal board? A highlight of the performance was Mike vocalizing. The wordless melody line he added with his voice interplayed to marvelous effect with his guitar dynamics and the rest of the ensemble.  All and all, it was a masterpiece concert.

If you have never heard Mike Stern live, make a plan to do it! He is heading to Europe/UK in July, and will be at Newport at the end of the month and Woodstock, NY in August.


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