Dave Sterner Quintet – Sidetracked – Speak Jazz Records, 56:16 ****:
(Dave Sterner, alto and soprano sax; Chris Burge, tenor sax; Roger Friedman, piano; Glen Holmes, bass; Paul Samuels, drums)
After reviewing N. Glenn Davis’ CD last month I was anxious to check out Dave Sterner’s latest CD, Sidetracked. After all, Sterner and Davis started Speak Jazz Records and are helping put the Cleveland area back on the jazz map. Davis’ CD was a classy trio session –
and the two jazzmen have shown that Cleveland should be known as more than Joe Lovano’s terrain.
Sterner had a prior issue back several years ago with What’s What. It included present bandmates Chris Burge and Roger Friedman. Sidetracked brings them back along with Glen Holmes and Paul Samuels. One thing for sure is you won’t get “sidetracked” listening to this latest CD. Sterner’s band brings a lot to the table. Dave wrote all the compositions with the exception of Friedman’s “Not Quite Yet.”
Each track has catchy hooks, whether they be bop oriented, blues based, or just a funky feel. “Mine or Yours” features the two horns blending seamlessly before each band member gets a chance to shine on their own. “Where Y’At” mixes New Orleans funk provided by the two saxes before Friedman’s piano and Paul Samuels’ insistent stick work adds a “second line” groove that will get your head nodding.
“Rotten Eggs” is a bluesy hook-laden stone groove. “Problem Solved” ups the energy level and was a personal favorite of mine as its insistent hard bop brings me back to the golden age of 60s Blue Note territory. Wailing sax indeed.
“Waiting” opens with some gorgeous piano lines from Roger Friedman, before Sterner shows off his soprano chops. His tone is lovely and he sets the stage for Burge to join in on tenor. The two blend sweetly before Glen Holmes has a soulful bass solo, and then Sterner and Burge take the ballad out. “Looking Glass” glides along with Sterner’s alto dancing with his partners in a waltz time setting. “Midlife Crisis” swirls with the saxes digging in propelled by drummer Samuels’ pulse. Roger Friedman’s contribution, “Not Quite Yet” fits in nicely as it lets the reeds take lead before providing Roger space to sparkle in his solo.
“What’d He Say? I Don’t Know” gives bassist Glen Holmes an opportunity to skillfully set the table for the two saxes. “Samba Dis, Samba Dat” brings the islands into your sound stage before the saxes take over unaccompanied like two snakes slithering in the sand.
Sidetracked provided so much fun that it became necessary for me to mention every track. It has a polished patina, and is a consistently rewarding listening experience. Davis and Sterner have their label off to a auspicious opening. Cleveland is stepping up…
TrackList: Mine or Yours, Where Y’At, Rotten eggs, Problem Solved, Waiting, Looking Glass, Midlife Crisis, Not Quite Yet, What’d He Say? I Don’t Know, Samba Dis, Samba Dat
— Jeff Krow