Sunday, October 30, 2005

Mike Stern: "Sometimes I was worse than Jaco"

Mike Stern

Guitar techniques, the days with Miles Davis and Jaco Pastorius were the main topics when guitarist Mike Stern held a clinic during the Umeå Jazz Festival on October 30th.

"I'm a rock guy", explained Stern at the clinic on the last day of Umeå Jazz Festival 2005 (Sweden).

Stern's first musical influences were rock orientated artists like The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and Motown music.
"I started by playing along to all those records. I also found some of my mother's jazz records which I found were cool too."

Mike Stern got to play guitar on Miles Davis' comeback album The Man With The Horn in 1981.
"I played with Bill Evans in Boston and Bill also played with Miles. At the time Miles didn't go along too well with his guitarplayer (Barry Finnerty)...on a personal level. And then, on behalf on Miles, Bill asked me to play guitar with Miles. There was no actual audition. I was just invited to a recording session."

Stern didn't always feel comfortable with his own playing but Miles seemed to be vary satisfied:
"We're going on a tour." Mike Stern told the clinic audience that he asked who else would be in the band and Miles replied: "No keyboards. Just you!"

Mike Stern was a friend of another jazz legend as well, electric bass phenomenon Jaco Pastorius:
"I played in his Word Of Mouth band for a while and sometimes I would go to Florida and we would play all day long. We hung around a lot". Mike smiled at the memories but also admitted that Jaco led a hectic life and a life that wasn't always that healthy: "And sometimes I was worse than Jaco."

Mike Stern's and bass player Chris Minh Doky's first tune at the clinic was Autumn Leaves. Later a couple of young music students (guitar players) joined in on stage. Inbetween songs the audience asked questions. Stern and Minh Doky also played Stella By Starlight and the "show" closed with a blues. Yes, I would say it was really a show, and I wish more jazz events could be like this, since jazz musicians obviously can speak well too.

Sigurd Huckle

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