Mike Stern Band
6th January 2005 at Motion Blue yokohama, 11st January 2005 at BLUE NOTE TOKYO

4 of the best loved musicians unite their bodies and souls to bring the joy of music into reality

What a luck it was to witness Mike Stern Band for two consecutive weeks. It has been years since the last event, at that time the venue is slightly larger and the band consisted of Dennis Chambers on the drums and Bob Franceschini on the sax, along with Lincoln Goines on the bass. The tidal wave of the beat out of the drums and the sophisticated technicality of the guitar were most impressive back then. Especially Dennis' drumming brought a vision of rampaging tank.In fact it was the first time I heard the band then, and this time I must admit that I headed to the shows still being a novice.

Motion Blue yokohama
The second stage of January 6th was the last of the two days show at Motion Blue yokohama. The members came on stage with a r
elaxed look. Mike started off with a light touch riff of "Play". The highlight passage played in unison by the sax and the guitar came just smoothly. The relaxed mood had a very positive effect on the performance, which gave a sensitive impression overall. As the heat of the performance mounted, the sensitivity increased. The solo performances went on to showcase the dexterity of the musicians, with Mike playing intricate passages, Dennis on polyrhythmic sequences, Richard Bona with his precision rhythm and playful show of hands, and Bob ranging from slow swing to high-speed passages, all culminating in an impressive 30 minutes opus.

After an extended performance of "Slow Change", "Wishing Well" was presented in duo format with Richard and Mike. What a beauty is was! Richard's presence in this band is most noteworthy. While being one of the most proficient bassists, his talent is also found in his vocals. The heavenly voice on African rhythm with all elements of the world music blended in, he presented a unique world of his own music, which might be called "the nature music". Mike's melody line blended in nicely with Richard's vocals, then eventually joined by Dennis and Bob, the tune reached the deepest of the heart of the audience.

Next tune was "What Might Have Been", again a beautiful ballad. Mike went on playing smooth passages with subtle changes in the guitar tone. Bob's sax joined in the melancholic melody. Richard's vocal was featured again on this tune. Mike's guitar performance was quite articulate in every aspect, as if to let the audience immerse in sweet melancholy.

Mike and Richard stayed on stage while others went off for the next tune which was a free style duo tune. Mike's chunky comping calle in Richard's slapping bass, together creating a tremendous groove. It was as if the two were in studio to experiment new riffs, but all in an exquisite playfulness that was in fact enticing to say the least.

Richard's vocal led off "Chatter", bringing an uproar from the audience. All musicians came on stage and the tune went into a full groove. Mike's solo soared freely, while the band displayed an increadible tightness. Dennis showed the magic of his hands by playing multiple rhythms together in polyrhythmic sequences. When asked after the show, he commented that the sensitivity to the band's sound is what matters to him. Then the drum solo came on full force. The ending of the tune went into a free style riffs on 8 beat, letting all go in a refreshing storm of sounds.

Following the show at Motion Blue Yokohama, next on the itinerary was BLUE NOTE TOKYO. Would it be as good as the one in Yokohama? The answer is positive by all means. While the set followed closely to the one in Yokohama, but it was even more aggresive and the prowess of the musicians was more evident.

The first tune "Play" was a knock-out. Mike went improvising as soon as the tune developed into the riff part. Technical and thoughtful the solo was, with a good amount of rock passion in the later part. Dennis showed off his versatility. The whole band was going full speed from the first tune on. Bob's sax blew off the hall, and Richard on octave shift effector sounded as if there were two guitarists in the band. Dennis's solo went raining cymbals and drums.

The heavy bas line on "Slow Change" came quite nicely. Denis had a great control over his drums. Along with the dynamic performance of the sax, Mike's guitar went even more soulful than ever before.

"Wishing Well" and "What Might Have Been" featured natural beauty of Richard's vocals. The happy lightness of "Wishing Well" and the subtlety of "What Might Have Been" filled the hall with enticing atmosphere.

Handclaps led off the duo part of Mike and Richard. The two seemed more relaxed than before, with one presenting a sequence and the other accompanying sppontaneously. It became playful as the tune developed, and Richard went on his fast licks and vocals in unison.

As the climax draws near, "Chatter" came on with rocking riffs. Driving guitar solo and the strong blow of the sax were outstanding. Dennis again blew off the entire hall with his raging drumming incorporating delicate rhythmic structures. That was most impressive of him, always taking control in power and delicate expression.

"Chatter" drove into the ending sequence which was biult on the coolest free-style 8 beat. Mike and Bob's interplay was nothing short of magnificent. As the whole band heats up to explosion, the tune went into end in a flood of sounds.

There's not much to add in words to the finest musicians of our time, but what makes the audience nailed to the stage must be the way those four show their love of music right in front of their eyes. Mike Stern Band proved that when a group of musicians bring their bodies and souls together the joy of music reveals itself.

Musicians Motion Blue Yokohama, Blue Note Tokyo):
Mike Stern (Guitar) http://www.mikestern.org/
Rechatd Bona (Bass) http://www.bonatology.com/
Dennis Chambers (Drums) http://www.dennischambers.com/
Bob Franceschini (Sax)

Set List (Motion Blue yokohama, BLUE NOTE TOKYO ):
1. Play
2. Slow Change
3. Wishing Well
4. What Might Have Been
5. Duo(Free Style)
6. Chatter`Ending(Free Style)

Report by Asako Matsuzaka
Many Thanks T
o Motion Blue yokohama, BLUE NOTE TOKYO

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