Friday, December 12, 2008

Hidden Treasures: The Stein Brothers

A couple months ago, I was listening to WBGO on my way to work (as I normally do) and heard a great new tune. The song Gary Walker played was "Jammin' at the JCT" from The Stein Brothers Quintet's debut album Quixotic. When I got home that night, I listened to the track samples on iTunes and made the purchase right away. It's not very often that I do that.

The band is made up of brothers Alex and Asher Stein (both in their 20's) on tenor and alto sax (respectively), Mferghu on piano, Doug Largent on bass, and Joe Blaxx on drums. All five young men from New Jersey and the various Burroughs of New York.

The Stein Brothers have the sound you don't hear much in jazz these days. The whole album is reminiscent of the early bebop recordings of Diz and Bird. Just about every track on the album is great. "And So I Love You", "Jammin' at the JCT", "Mr. O.C.", and "This Time the Dreams on Me" are among my favorites. I also love Mferghu's solo in "Midlife Crisis" (since I'm a big piano guy).

That's not to say the album is without flaws. It's not a big deal, but sometimes they follow the bebop formula too closely. There were a couple tracks in the second half of the album where I knew exactly when the piano solo would end and the drum solo would immediately follow it. It's not a big deal, but just something I noticed. The other thing I didn't quite care for were the two ballads. They were technically proficient and had beautiful solos by both Steins, but just didn't grab me.

I'm definitely going to keep an ear out for their future recordings and try to catch them live. They still seem to be touring mostly in the New York area, so there’s a good chance I’ll get to see them soon.

Some Reviews:
All About Jazz
The Star (they also quibble about the arrangement of some tunes)
Jazz Review

I can’t find any YouTube clips of songs off the album, but here they are in action in February at The Bayview Room in St. Petersburg, FL.

And in Jersey City from August 9, 2007.

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