“The Kicker”

(Whaling City Sound)

Following his 2017 guitar-and-bass duo release Wood and Strings, John Stein returns to full-band format on Watershed (Whaling City Sound), reveling in the give-and-take of a hot quintet. Stein, a longtime faculty member at Berklee College of Music in Boston, recorded the album while on a 2019 tour of Brazil, recruiting an estimable group of area musicians, including drummer Zé Eduardo Nazario, with whom he’s previously recorded. The band delves into Stein’s original songs, a mix of bluesy hard bop and breezy Brazilian-influenced melodies, as well as tunes by some of Stein’s touchstones, including Jim Hall and Pat Martino. They also dip into the songbook of saxophonist Joe Henderson, another major influence on the guitarist, with a burning rendition of “The Kicker,” included here. Teco Cardoso leads the charge on alto sax, as Stein comps chords and bassist Frank Herzberg and drummer Nazario stoke the rhythmic fires. Keyboardist Daniel Grajew adds another sparkling solo voice, as Stein generously shares the spotlight with his bandmates, marking this a true ensemble expression. The album title refers to Stein’s stepping down from his post at Berklee to pursue more playing opportunities, a “watershed moment” in his life.

Purchase Album:

The Authoritative Voice in Jazz