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Classics reduced to dinner music

Standards (and Other Songs)
Standards (and Other Songs)
By Mike Stern

Atlantic Records: 1992

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This review first appeared in the January 15, 1993 issue of the North County Blade-Citizen (now North County Times).

A talented, proficient guitarist, Mike Stern's latest effort focuses on standards – including such gems as Thelonius Monk's "Straight, No Chaser," Horace Silver's "Peace" and John Coltrane's "Moment's Notice."

Stern has a sound as big and fat as Alan Holdsworth; however, on this album he displays none of Holdsworth's adventurousness or imagination.

The above songs are reduced to background music, with nice, smooth arrangements, supple leads and pleasant harmonies. But this was not the way these songs were written or performed by their originators; if not angry, they were at least challenging to both listener and performer. Not here.

While not a bad album, the lightweight treatment given the classic songs here cannot help but be a disappointment.