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John Stein was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1949, where he began playing guitar at age 7. Eventually he wound up at Berklee College Of Music, first as a student, then as a member of the faculty. He can still be found there today, when he isn’t on the road playing jazz.

Stein has released several albums over the last few years. The one I decided to tell you about this time around is his 2009 release, “Raising The Roof”, on the Whaling City Sound label.

John Stein's "Raising The Roof"

John Stein’s “Raising The Roof”

The personnel are:
John Stein, guitar
Koichi Sato, acoustic piano and Rhodes
John Lockwood, acoustic bass
Zè Eduardo Nazario, drums

“Raising The Roof” contains two of Stein’s original compositions and seven songs by others. The album opens with an unusually lively rendition of the Horace Silver standard, “Nica’s Dream”. This track runs just under seven minutes, and it pretty well cooks the entire time. So well does this group work together, none really stands out on this song. Normally a statement like that is merely a nice way of describing equal mediocrity. But, trust me, that is not the case here.

Here is Stein live in Brazil performing “Nica’s Dream”.

Bobby Timmons’ classic, “Moanin'”, is up next. Stein’s nylon strings and Sato’s Rhodes give this a different sort of opening. Throughout the song, the Rhodes pops up with surprising effect.

Here is Stein accompanied by a some of the same musicians performing “Moanin” live in 2010.

We have to go all the way to track four to find the first of the two Stein originals, “Elvin!”. An obvious homage to drummer Elvin Jones, everyone does their bit to see to it that this song has a nice feel to it. “Elvin!” runs a little less than eight and a half minutes, and thus is the longest song on the disk. I love it, I just love it. Wonderful song.

This video is Stein performing “Elvin!” live.

“Invitation”, by Bronislaw Kaper and Paul Francis Webster, has a Latin rhythm and a somewhat haunting sound. It’s a beautifully introspective tune, a delightful change of pace from the track before.

“Vivo Sonhando” is next. This Antonio Carlos Jobim tune has a nice Latin beat that will make you want to get up and dance. Sato’s piano is a special standout here, but it is, of course, Stein’s fretwork that makes the song what it is.

“Wild Woods” is the other remaining Stein composition on this album. It apparently was intended to be a waltz, but you would never guess it from the presentation here. This is a lively song that will bring you to your feet, so strong is the impulse to MOVE! that it imparts.

The final song on this album is one that could well have been done as a ballad, but Stein wisely chose to do it at a more brisk pace. This is the classic, “Falling In Love With Love”, from Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. This lively arrangement makes for a wonderful song and a delightful close to the album.

All in all, I would have to say that you will find John Stein’s “Raising The Roof” to be a great addition to your personal playlist for a Saturday, or any other, night!

To learn more about John Stein and his music, visit his web site.

Thanks for reading this.

Al Evans
Wood Village, Oregon

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