Stern performing in Munich, 2001
|Birth name||Michael Sedgwick|
January 10, 1953 |
Boston, Massachusetts, United States
|Genres||Jazz, jazz fusion, post-bop|
|Labels||Atlantic, Heads Up,|
|Associated acts||Blood, Sweat & Tears, Miles Davis, Brecker Brothers|
Mike Stern (born January 10, 1953) is a six-time Grammy-nominated American jazz guitarist. After playing with Blood, Sweat & Tears, he landed a gig with drummer Billy Cobham, then with trumpeter Miles Davis from 1981 to 1983 and again in 1985. Following that, he launched a solo career, releasing more than a dozen albums.
Stern was hailed as the Best Jazz Guitarist of 1993 by Guitar Player magazine. At the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal in June 2007, Stern was honored with the Miles Davis Award, which was created to recognize internationally acclaimed jazz artists whose work has contributed significantly to the renewal of the genre. In 2009 Stern was listed on Down Beat's list of 75 best jazz guitarist of all time. He was presented with Guitar Player magazine's Certified Legend Award on January 21, 2012.
Mike Stern was born Michael Sedgwick in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Helen (Burroughs) and Henry Dwight Sedgwick V. "Stern" is the surname of his stepfather. He is the half-brother of actress Kyra Sedgwick; his full sister, Holly, is the mother of actor Philip Nozuka and singers George Nozuka, Justin Nozuka, and Henry Nozuka. Stern is married to guitarist and vocalist Leni Stern.
At the Berklee College of Music in Boston Stern concentrated on jazz. In 1976 he became a member of Blood, Sweat & Tears and remained with them for two years, appearing on the albums More Than Ever and Brand New Day.
In 1979, he joined Billy Cobham's fusion band. Two years later he joined Miles Davis, making his public debut on in 1981 Boston, a performance recorded on the album We Want Miles. He remained with Davis through 1983 until he was replaced by guitarist John Scofield. At the time, Stern was a heavy drinker and heroin user. In a 2009 interview, he said, "If Miles wants to put you in a rehab, you know you've got something wrong". From 1983 to 1984 he toured with Jaco Pastorius (a period also characterized by heavy drug use) and in 1985 returned to tour with Davis. Stern and his wife were in rehabilitation, and they were also helped by Michael Brecker and others.
His solo debut, Upside Downside, was released on Atlantic Records in 1986, with Jaco Pastorius, David Sanborn, and Bob Berg. From 1986 through 1988, he was a member of Michael Brecker's quintet, appearing on Don't Try This at Home. His second Atlantic album, 1988's Time in Place, featured Peter Erskine on drums, Jim Beard on keyboards, Jeff Andrews on bass, Don Alias on percussion and Don Grolnick on organ. His next album, Jigsaw, was produced by guitarist Steve Khan and included the song "Chief", Stern's tribute to Miles Davis.
In 1989, he formed a touring group with Bob Berg, Dennis Chambers, and Lincoln Goines. They remained together through 1992 and are featured on the album Odds or Evens. In 1992, Stern joined a reunited Brecker Brothers Band for two years. His acclaimed 1993 album, Standards (and Other Songs), led to his being named Best Jazz Guitarist of the Year by the readers and critics of Guitar Player. He followed that up with 1994's Is What It Is and 1996's Between the Lines. Both received Grammy Award nominations. In 1997 he released Give and Take, with bassist John Patitucci, drummer Jack DeJohnette, percussionist Don Alias and special guests Michael Brecker and David Sanborn. He won the Orville W. Gibson Award for Best Jazz Guitarist.
After 15 years with Atlantic, Stern shifted to ESC Records for the 2004 release of These Times, an eclectic album that included guest appearances by bassist Richard Bona, saxophonist Kenny Garrett, and banjoist Béla Fleck. He joined the Heads Up label with the August 2006 release of Who Let the Cats Out? In 2008, he collaborated with the Yellowjackets for their Lifecycle release, contributing two compositions and performing on most of the tracks. He toured with the Yellowjackets for much of 2008 and 2009. In February 2009, in the first in a series of articles to celebrate Down Beat's 75th anniversary, he was named one of the 75 Great Guitarists of all time.
He was presented with Guitar Player magazine's Certified Legend Award on January 21, 2012. This was given to him at the Muriel Anderson All-Star Guitar night, where he performed with Lee Ritenour. Other guitarists who have won the award include Les Paul, Duane Eddy, Dick Dale, Larry Carlton, and Tommy Emmanuel. In June of that year, Stern released All Over the Place, which featured trumpeter Randy Brecker, saxophonists Kenny Garrett, Chris Potter, Bob Franceschini and Bob Malach, drummers Dave Weckl, Keith Carlock, Lionel Cordew, Al Foster, Kim Thompson, keyboardist/producer Jim Beard and Stern's wife, guitarist and vocalist Leni Stern. Acoustic and electric bassist present included Esperanza Spalding, Richard Bona, Victor Wooten, Anthony Jackson, Dave Holland, Tom Kennedy, Will Lee and Victor Bailey.
An early and important guitar for Stern was a hybrid 1950s/1960s Fender Telecaster, previously owned by Roy Buchanan and Danny Gatton, which was stolen from him in an armed robbery in Boston. This guitar is the basis for a custom-made guitar built by Boston-based luthier Michael Aronson, which has a Telecaster style body with an original 1950's Broadcaster neck. There is a Seymour Duncan humbucker in the neck position and a Bill Lawrence single coil in the bridge.
Stern uses a pair of Fender '65 Twin Reverb amps or his Yamaha G100-212. Stern's recognizable chorused sound is created in part by a Yamaha SPX-90, split for stereo. His pedal board mostly consists of Boss pedals. He uses two Boss DD-3 digital delays, one of which is set to a long delay time for "big, spacey sounds." His distortion pedal is a Boss Distortion DS-1.
Awards and honors
- Nominations for Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Jazz Album: Is What It Is (1995), Between the Lines (1997), Voices (2002), Who Let the Cats Out? (2007), Lifecycle (2009), Big Neighborhood (2010)
- Best Jazz Guitarist, Orville W. Gibson Award (1997)
- Jazz Guitarist of the Year, Guitar Player (1993)
- 75 Great Guitarists of all time, Down Beat (2009)
- Certified Legend Award, Guitar Player (2012)
- Neesh (1983)
- Upside Downside (Atlantic, 1986)
- Time in Place (Atlantic, 1988)
- Jigsaw (Atlantic, 1989)
- Odds or Evens (Atlantic, 1991)
- Standards and Other Songs (Atlantic, 1992)
- Is What It Is (Atlantic, 1994)
- Between the Lines (Atlantic, 1996)
- Give and Take (Atlantic, 1997)
- Play (Atlantic, 1999)
- Voices (Atlantic, 2001)
- These Times (ESC, 2004)
- Who Let the Cats Out? (Heads Up, 2006)
- Big Neighborhood (Heads Up, 2009)
- All Over the Place (Heads Up, 2012)
- Eclectic (Heads Up, 2014) with Eric Johnson
- Edie: American Girl by Jean Stein, George Plimpton; p. 13
- Panken, Ted (2 October 2009). "In Conversation with Mike Stern". Jazz.com. Retrieved 13 January 2016.
- Milkowski, Bill (2005). Jaco: The Extraordinary and Tragic Life of Jaco Pastorius. Backbeat Books. p. 166. ISBN 9780879308599.
- Relative, Saul (January 31, 2010). "2010 Grammy Awards: Michael Jackson Tribute, Lady Gaga and Elton John Duet Highlight". Yahoo! Voices. Retrieved January 15, 2014.
- Gold, Jude (June 2007). "Mike Stern". Guitar Player. pp. 28–30.
- "PAC1511MS: Mike Stern Signature Pacifica Guitar". Yamaha Corporation. Retrieved October 15, 2010.
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