Making it sing

By JON GARELICK  |  March 25, 2010

At Scullers on April 7, Gill and Stein will split one long set, doing music from both Turn Up the Quiet and Stein’s new Raising the Roof (Whaling City Sounds), where he’s rejoined by the crew from 2008’s Encounterpoint: former Berklee student Koichi Sato on keyboards, Boston mainstay John Lockwood on bass, and the esteemed Brazilian drummer Zé Eduardo Nazário. There’s a good mix of standards and originals (Stein’s “Elvin!”, for the late, great drummer, is a particular standout) and superb playing all around. Stein is what you might call deep mainstream, surprising at every turn with familiar material. Working with a clean, undistorted classic jazz-guitar sound, he renders maximum swing and expression. There’s a wealth of detail — the dips and turns of phrases, accents falling like words — that he gets at even the fastest tempos, as on the opener, Horace Silver’s “Nica’s Dream.”

On the album with Gill, Stein’s guitar playing is a one-man rhythm section, simultaneously filling out harmonies, sketching melodic ornaments, and providing a propulsive bottom end. “When you start to take a solo,” he explains, “a typical guitar player plays lines, so the music falls off. Somehow you have to be able to play and accompany yourself at the same time. It’s a time feel. You have to keep the time feeling going.”

At Scullers, Stein will fill out his portion of the program with Barkan, bassist Keala Kaumeheiwa, and drummer Luther Gray.

DEE DEE BRIDGEWATER | Paramount Theatre, 569 Washington St, Boston | March 27 at 8 pm; March 28 at 3 pm | $48-$56 | celebrityseries.org | RON GILL & JOHN STEIN | Scullers, DoubleTree Guest Suites Hotel, 400 Soldiers Field Road, Boston | April 7 at 8 pm | $20; $10 students | scullersjazz.com

ADDENDUM: After this story went to press, John Stein reported that Ron Gill had suffered a stroke. Although the stroke was “apparently a minor event” and Gill is out of the hospital resting at home in Charlotte, he’s currently unable to travel. Plans at this time are for the event at Scullers to feature only the John Stein Quartet, though the band intends to celebrate music from both CDs and to “honor [Gill’s] musicianship and warm personality.”

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