Guitarist John Stein has a way of making every familiar situation sound new — as he did on a “soul jazz” disc with David “Fathead” Newman a couple of years ago, and in a straight-ahead trio last year with John Lockwood and Yoron Israel, and as he does here on a CD he recorded in a São Paulo studio last year while on a Brazilian tour with bassist Frank Herzberg and drummer Zé Eduardo Nazario. So, yes, it’s “Brazilian,” but it includes Grant Green’s “Blues in Maude’s Flat” (a showcase for Stein’s subtle, inexorable swing) and the hard-driving New Orleans second-line rhythms of the opening original “Happy Hour.” The Herzberg samba “Marta” is in triple time, the old Sinatra torch song “I’m a Fool To Want You” gets a bossa treatment and some beautiful free interplay between Stein and flutist Teco Cardosa that makes you forget all about Frank and Ava, and Stein deepens the theme of Jobim’s “Inutil paisagem” by putting Cardosa’s bass flute under Bocato’s trombone. These are Brazilian players who know their Mingus and Bill Evans (check Alexandre Zamith’s piano on Sergio Mihanovich’s “Sometime Ago”) as well as their foro. And Stein’s playing, as always, is proof that loud-and-fast isn’t the only way a guitarist can convey technique and depth of feeling.
John Stein Quartet | Scullers, DoubleTree Guest Suites Hotel, 400 Soldiers Field Road, Boston | November 7 | 617.562.4111