Personalities | Mike Stern | A Major Force in Jazz Guitar | Guitar Heroes

Mike Stern (b. 1953), the American jazz guitarist, emerged as a major force in the jazz guitar scene through his work with Miles Davis’ band in the early Eighties, Stern has played with stars such as Stan Getz, Jaco Pastorius, Pat Martino and David Sanborn. Stern was also a guitarist in Steps Ahead and the Brecker Brothers Band.

Stern attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he first embraced jazz. He landed a gig with Blood, Sweat & Tears in 1976 and remained with the band for two years, appearing on the albums More Than Ever (1976) and Brand New Day (1977).

In 1979 Stern played with Billy Cobham’s band and joined Miles Davis two years later, making his public debut on the live album We Want Miles (1982). He remained with Davis through 1983, and then toured in Jaco Pastorius’ Word Of Mouth band from 1983 to 1984. In 1985 he rejoined Davis for a year. Stern’s solo debut, Upside Downside, was released on Atlantic Records in 1986. It featured performances by Pastorius, David Sanborn and Bob Berg. From 1986 through 1988, Stern was in Michael Brecker’s quintet, appearing on Don’t Try This At Home (1988).

Stern’s second Atlantic album, 1988’s Time In Place, was followed by 1989’s Jigsaw, produced by fellow guitarist Steve Khan. In 1989 Stern formed a touring group with Bob Berg, drummer Dennis Chambers and bassist Lincoln Goines. They played together through 1992 and are featured on Stern’s Atlantic release, Odds Or Evens (1991).

Stern played with the Brecker Brothers Band from 1992 until 1994. His acclaimed 1993 Atlantic release, Standards (And Other Songs) led to Stern’s being named Best Jazz Guitarist Of The Year by Guitar Player magazine. He followed that up with 1994’s Is What It Is and 1996’s Between The Lines, both of which received Grammy nominations.

In 1997, Stern returned to straight-ahead jazz with Give And Take. Stern’s most recent releases are Voices (2001), These Times (2004) and Who Let The Cats Out? (2006). A Mike Stern signature model was manufactured by Yamaha as part of their Pacifica range. The guitar is based on Mike’s heavily modified Fender Telecaster. In 2008, Stern collaborated with the Yellowjackets for their Lifecycle release. He toured with the band for much of 2008 and 2009.

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