John Stein – Encounterpoint – Whaling City Sound WCS 042, 53:59 ****1/2:
(John Stein – guitar, acoustic bass; Koichi Sato – keyboards; John Lockwood – acoustic bass; Zé Eduardo Nazario – drums, percussion)
Deep swing combined with rhythmic flexibility and sophistication: add consummate taste and bravura harmonies, and you’ve got a special session. It’s taken a while for leader Stein, a mainstay of the Boston jazz scene, to find his ideal setting, but Encounterpoint very attractively exhibits the fruits of his decades-long recording ventures. He’s assayed both organ and Brazilian jazz before. Here he combines the two into a third thing.
There’s a fluency of expression, an easy mastery of the trickiest passages, a bravura assurance, that separates this disc from his entirely worthy but seldom transcendent efforts of the past. A recent trip to Brazil, resulting in the fine disc Concerto Internacional de Jazz, provides the background to this captivating session. Securing the services of Japanese keyboard wizard Koichi Sato seals the deal. On Encounterpoint Stein’s combined the lessons learned at the hands of his Brazilian masters on the previous disc with the vibe of his Grant Green tribute, Green Street, to produce jazz of a very high order. It was a great decision to retain Zé Eduardo Nazario on drums and percussion from that session. What we get is a kind of deep bow toward bossa/samba sensibilities even as their essence morphs into an entirely North American jazz vibe. Great stuff, if you can pull it off.
Close Your Eyes
Só Dança Samba
You Don’t Know What Love Is
– Jan P. Dennis