Review: By Matthew Warnock / All About Jazz
WCS 042 - Encounterpoint
John Stein

Guitarist John Stein has brought together an all-star ensemble for the album Encounterpoint and these world-class musicians deliver on every tune. The ensemble cast of Koichi Sate, keyboards, John Lockwood, bass, and Ze Eduardo Nazario on drums and percussion are always on top of their game. Whether it be a funk groove, hard swinger or relaxing bossa-nova tune, the energy and interaction are always solid throughout. With a band of this caliber it would hard for anyone to sound less than their best, but Stein is not one to rest on his heels as he pushes the band to new heights of creativity and emotion during his melodic interpretations and improvised solos.

Stein draws upon a wide variety of styles and influences with the tune selection on Encounterpoint. The album begins with the classic Duke Jordan tune "Jordu," which Stein has arranged to alternate swing and bossa feels during the melody sections while the solos remain in a bossa feel. There is a strong Brazilian influence throughout the album especially on the bossa-nova standards "Dindi" and "So Danco Samba," and with Nazario behind the kit there is always an element of Latin influenced groove creeping up in each song. Aside from the bossa-nova tunes there are also several hard-swinging bebop pieces such as "Close Your Eyes," a Monk influenced "Half-Whole Blues," and the funk-based "The Roundabout." The wide variety of musical styles prevents the album from becoming repetitive and allows each musician the chance to stretch in multiple musical situations.

Stein's playing is stellar throughout the album as he always seems to know when to burn, when to play melodically, and when to just lay out and let the band take over. Stein draws heavily from his bebop vocabulary throughout the record, though he never sounds repetitious and has a knack for twisting his lines and melodies into unexpected territory. Though he leaves most of the chord work to the more than capable hands of Sato, Stein does provide two simple, yet highly effective, chord melody introductions to the tunes "Line Drive" and "Dindi," with the latter being one of the albums brightest moments.

John Stein has really lifted the bar with Encounterpoint, not only for himself but for the jazz guitar quartet genre in general. The mixture of styles, world-class ensemble, and effective tune selection all combine to bring the most out of each individual musician and the group as a whole. The result is an album that is both intellectual stimulating and easily accessible at the same time.



Review: By Jazz News
WCS 042 - Encounterpoint
John Stein

For two inspired days in the fall of 2007, guitarist John Stein brought together a virtuosic quartet from the far corners of the globe to tackle a repertoire he'd been saving for just the right players. The result is the aptly titled Encounterpoint, Stein's seventh recording and a dazzling exchange of musical thoughts and melodic ideas. "When I listen to this record, " says Stein, "I hear the virtuosity of the musicians."

Convened in Boston, Encounterpoint is truly an international summit. Drummer Ze Eduardo Nazario is a renowned percussionist from Brazil. Koichi Sato, an immensely precocious keyboardist from Japan, had just graduated from the Berklee College of Music and versatile bassist John Lockwood, a South African expatriate now living in Boston, is a veteran of free-jazz trio The Fringe, not to mention a first call bassist for the city's premiere sessions.

Over the years, Stein has demonstrated a versatility of his own, performing as a leader or a sideman with some of America's finest jazz acts, including David "Fathead" Newman, Larry Goldings, Lou Donaldson, and others. Stein's previous album, Concerto Internacional de Jazz, was recorded in Brazil back in 2006.

For Encounterpoint, Stein brought together these gifted players for a weekend. Typically, Stein's compositions and performances cover a wide spectrum of jazz, from blues to bebop, and from bossa nova to swing. He has toured nationally and internationally, not only in Brazil, but throughout Europe as well. Together, the quartet came through on Stein's characteristic versatility, hammering out some memorable performances, including four originals, a clutch of standards, and a couple of lesser-known Jobim tunes for good measure.

"I love 'Autumn Leaves, ' but I always look for tunes that are a little less typical, " says Stein. Songs like "Jordu, " a Duke Jordan tune popularized by Clifford Brown, and Jobim's "Dindi" and ""So Danca Samba" complement Stein's own evocative originals. In fact, Stein shows his own versatility as a composer, with the slightly dissonant "Half-Whole Blues, " the soulful "The Roundabout, " and a brisk waltz called "Trois."

Stein's confidence as a leader shines, thanks largely to the talented ensemble he brings together for the session. "I look for musicians who pay attention and listen and respond to what they hear, " he says. "You often hear musicians providing a pad and the soloist gets on top of it and blows licks over it. But I never enjoyed it that way. I'm much more interested in real interplay between musicians."

He certainly gets his wish on Encounterpoint. The musicians begin taking their stands immediately. At the four-minute mark of the first tune, "Jordu, " drummer Nazario takes center stage. Sato holds the floor on "Line Drive, " and Stein himself makes some lovely and lyrical points on the third cut, "The Roundabout." Not to be left out, bassist Lockwood has a chance to issue some statements of his own on tracks like "Trois" and "Half-Whole Blues." Throughout the album, which is beautifully recorded and mixed, Stein's band truly stands out, with richly buoyant and soulful performances.

On Encounterpoint, Stein proves that chance meetings like this, encounters, can make some very powerful musical points.



Review: By Jazz Improv
WCS 042 - Encounterpoint
John Stein

“En-counter-point” is John Stein’s seventh album as a leader, and it features a great array of unique originals and timeless standards. Each member of the band on this date had played with Stein before, but they were only together in this combination for the two days that this recording was made. Although many would say that a non-working band shouldn’t make an album until they have established a music relationship, I would not have guessed they hadn’t yet done this based on the results—the playing is very loose and relaxed, and the communication is a defining characteristic.

Stein starts off strong on the classic “Jordu” which he gives a Brazilian twist. He has a very distinct rhythmic approach where he is alternately in front and behind the beat—something that can only be achieved with an intense presence of mind. Keyboardist Koichi Sato is a great accompanist in that, in the best way possible, you hardly realize he is there. For one, the spongy and atmospheric sound of his organ or Nord, or any of the other non-piano keyboards he uses doesn’t interfere with John’s playing, and then the way he goes about comping is to be minimal and supportive. He gives the album a taste of funky lounge type grooves as well.

A powerful contributor and instigator of the rhythmic excitement on this album is the Brazilian drummer Zé Eduardo Nazario, who has played with some of the highest regarded Brazilian innovators, such as Hermeto Pascoal and Egberto Gismonti. Although he often plays straight ahead here, his rhythmic agility is always finding its way to the surface, as it inspires the band to some incredible moments. Bassist John Lockwood also proves to be a rhythmically exciting soloist on tunes such as the Stein original “Line Drive.”

Stein’s tune “Roundabout” is surely a highlight with its blues-funk earthy melody and the great groove laid down by the rhythm section. Stein offers a great solo, showing plenty of blues influence, while still retaining his distinct style. He follows this up with a very introspective and beautiful Jobim tune entitled “Dindi”, accompanied by Zé on percussion, and through overdubbing, himself on bass. “Half-Whole Blues” may have been created by a musical pattern of going down a half step then up a whole step, or a similar such intervallic method of composing, but the result is quirky and fun, and Steins’ solo incorporates this mechanism to inspire some interesting phrases.

This album features a leader who has a very distinct voice on his instrument, and beyond that, he possesses all of the characteristics that make a listener want to hear a player—rhythmic excitement, interesting melodies, depth, honesty, and plenty of chops that he uses for the right reasons. Put that on top of a killer band with tons of groove, and you have a great album.



Review: By Wayne Everett Goins / Kansas City Jazz Ambassadors
WCS 042 - Encounterpoint
John Stein

John Steinʼs latest CD, EnCounterPoint, serves as a wonderful follow-up to his previous encounter, Concerto Internacional de Jazz, a thoroughly Brazilian affair released in 2006. This time, the musicians convened under fairly unusual circumstances: they held a two-day marathon during the fall of 2007 to record the entire set after traveling from various corners of the world. From Yokohama came Japanese-based keyboardist Koichi Sato. Drummer and percussionist Ze Eduardo Nazario came from Brazil, while long-time Boston/New York bassist John Lockwood emerged from his native continent of South Africa to make the session. The summit was held in Boston, where both Sato, Lockwood, and Stein had resided at various times while spent paying dues at the Berklee College of Music.

The album starts with a sparkling version of the Duke Jordan tune, “Jordu,” where Nazario keeps a chatty snare and ride, while Sato plays a warm electric piano, and Lockwood walks warmly underneath. Meanwhile, Stein offers short but effective melodic gifts in his solo. The next tune, “Line Drive”, is one of the tastiest cuts on the roster. With a fairly simple melody and chord progression, Steinʼs original tune is a medium-tempo piece that boasts a care-free flow that allows each man to get their jollies—especially John Lockwood, who performs passionately when his turn comes on bass. “The Roundabout” sounds like it could have easily been inspired by Modeski, Martin & Wood, with the funky, hip-hop backbeat provided by Ze Eduardo Nazario. “Dindi,” one of the more beautiful (if less popular) tunes by the master Anton Carlos Jobim, slowly snakes its way through the grooves, with John performing a dual role as guitarist and overdubbed acoustic bass— and executed to perfection. Although three instruments are present, the tune is really a duet between Stein and Nazario, who creates a warm blanket of percussive effects, underneath Steinʼs luscious chordmelody lines that would make Kenny Burrell blush. The following track, “Close Your Eyes,” is the shortest in length, but doesnʼt disappoint. Though itʼs another lesser-known tune—an approach that Stein tends to enjoy—it still offers the listener several treats, including Steinʼs consistently juicy, Wes-inspired fat guitar tones, Nazarioʼs swinging bop drums, and Kochi Satoʼs bubbling Hammond organ effects. The aptly-titled “Trois” is a bass feature for Lockwood, who wastes no time in taking what is his. Followed by Satoʼs refreshing Fender- Rhodes solo, the tune bounces along blithely, with Stein taking the last solo flight before making a smooth landing. Steinʼs Monk-inspired “Half-Whole Blues” is an extended sixteen-bar blues jam that clocks in at nearly nine minutes, giving each guest plenty of room to explore with jagged lines and unsettling rhythms. Stein returns to Brazil with Jobimʼs light-hearted “So Danco Samba,” delivered at a quickened pace that cruises effortlessly. The final track, “You Donʼt Know What Love Is,” comes not as a ballad, but a medium-slow bossa that works surprisingly well, especially for Kochi Sato, who getʼs the lionʼs share of the treat, providing a Chick Corea-flavored electric piano solo that serves as the centerpiece for the tune. The whole tune, like the entire album, ultimately goes down as smooth as a good bourbon.

All in all, the nine tracks offered on John Steinʼs seventh album definitely insures that it ranks as one of his finest outings, and easily maintains his reputation as a top-shelf contemporary guitarist of the new century.



Review: By Bill Milkowski / Jazz Times
WCS 042 - Encounterpoint
John Stein

Accomplished Boston guitarist John Stein convenes an international crew for this engaging quartet offering. The presence of Brazilian drummer Zé Eduardo Nazario ensures an authentic feel on "Só Danço Samba," on Jobim's "Dindi," done as an intimate duet with Stein, and even on a bossa-nova rendition of Duke Jordan's "Jordu." Japanese pianist Koichi Sato offers swinging accompaniment and facile lines on Fender Rhodes and organ while bassist John Lockwood holds it all down in typically grooving fashion.



Review: By Brandon Bernstein / Just Jaz Guitar
WCS 042 - Encounterpoint
John Stein

John Stein continues to excel as one of the forefront jazz guitarists on the planet, and it shows on Encounterpoint. Stein a renowned jazz guitarist and jazz educator at Berklee Shcool of Music, enlightens the world again with yet another wonderful CD. Encounterpoint is an outstanding and hard-swinging jazz album with some of the finest jazz musicians in the world. The recording features four original tunes and five standards. Joining Stein on this recording is an international band featuring Koichi Sato from Japan on keyboards; John Lockwood, originally from South Africa on bass; and Eduardo Nazario from Brazil on drums.

Stein couldn't ask for anything more from his bandmates on this recording. The passion, interaction, groove and talent on the CD are incredible. Stein's warm guitar tone along with Koichi Sato's keyboard sound compliment each other perfectly. The tracks on the CD are Jordu, Line Drive, The Roundabout , Dindi, Close Your Eyes, Trois, Half Whole Blues, So Danco Samba, and You Don't Know What Love Is. Highly Recomended.



Review: By D. Oscar Groomes O's Place Jazz Newsletter
WCS 042 - Encounterpoint
John Stein

Guitarist John Stein delivers a set of nine mellow fusion tunes. About half are originals. Among the best are "Line Drive" and "The Roundabout". Add cool covers of "Jordu", "Close Your Eyes", "You Don't Know What Love Is" and "Sõ Danço Samba" to make this a great program. Stein employs bassist John Lockwood, ZÈ Eduardo (d) and Koichi Sato (p) making this a truly international quartet and perhaps his album yet.



WCS 042 - Encounterpoint
John Stein

Encounterpoint is the seventh album by jazz artist John Stein, performed in tandem with fellow bassist John Lockwood, drummer Ze Eduardo Nazario, and Keyboard player Koichi Sato. Together they have created an assembly of songs that rotate their musical focus from piece to piece, while maintaining a uniform soul moving, free-flowing pulse. The tracks are Jordu(5:13),Line Drive(6:58), The Roundabout(5:31), Dindi(5:50), Close Your Eyes(4:20), Trois(5:00) Half-Whole Blues(8:51), So Danco Samba(5:20), and You Don't Know What Love Is(6:56). A worthy addition to jazz connoisseur collections and library music CD shelves.



Review: By Arnaldo DeSouteiro / Jazz Station
WCS 042 - Encounterpoint
John Stein

Recorded in November, 2007, in Boston, where John Stein teaches at the Berklee College of Music, this is Stein's seventh album. A great guitarist, he is joined by the veteran Boston-based South African-born bassist John Lockwood (previously heard with Art Farmer, Dizzy Gillespie and Joe Henderson, among others), newcomer Japanese keyboardist Koichi Sato (who uses the Fender Rhodes I love so much), and Brazil's drum master Zé Eduardo Nazário, by far our most creative and original drummer (ie, "the best") in Brazil's current jazz scene - actually, the most accomplished disciple of Dom Um Romão and Edison Machado, and the only one (at least to my knowledge) who seems capable to keep the flame of the "old school" of Brazilian drumming and lead it into the new millenium, by adding his own inventive mastery. In so doing, he never sounds "old"; he sounds "eternally contemporary".

A Veteran of Hermeto Pascoal's and Egberto Gismonti's best bands, Nazário shines in each and every musical context. It's not a coincidence that he recorded in some of the best albums recorded in Brazil in the 70s: Taiguara's "Imyra, Tayra, Ipy", Toninho Horta's "Terra dos Pássaros", and Egberto Gismonti's "Nó Caipira".

This new John Stein album is no exception. It starts with a seductive samba-jazz take on Duke Jordan's bop anthem "Jordu" (Nazário evokes Dom Um's soul), followed by inspired versions of "Close Your Eyes" (surprisingly played not as a ballad, but in an up-tempo "in the pocket" groove, with Sato on the Hammond organ), "You Don't Know What Love Is" (one of my personal favorite ballads), "Só Danço Samba" (great solos by Stein, Sato on Rhodes, Lockwood and Nazário), and "Dindi" (performed as a Stein-Nazário duo, with the guitarist also overdubbing on acoustic bass, using the arco on the intro, while Nazário plays multiple percussion instruments giving a "samba feeling" to Jobim's song, instead of a conventional bossa-ballad approach).

Stein himself contributes several intriguing originals such as "Line Drive" (the leader, always providing subtle lines in highly articulated phrasings, shines on this straight-ahead number), "The Roundabout" (with Sato on the B-3 and Nazário adding caxixi to his brushwork), the breezy jazz waltz "Trois" (Sato back on the Rhodes, after Lockwood's solo) and "Half-Whole Blues", which annotator Ed Hazell describes as "a wry, adventurous line, dissonant and angular, but also swinging and hip" - a tune that brings me memories of Jim Hall's "Two's Blues". Strongly recommended.



Review: By Tom Hull
WCS 042 - Encounterpoint
John Stein

Guitarist, originally from Kansas City, has a half-dozen albums. Quartet here, mostly funk licks over Koichi Sato's electric keyboard, with a little samba wedged in, not just to make drummer Zé Eduardo Nazario feel at home. B+(*)



Review: By Pribek
WCS 042 - Encounterpoint
John Stein

“My music is the result of a lifetime’s involvement with my instrument, the guitar, and many hours studying theory, composition, arranging, and musical history,”

That’s a quote from John Stein. I know something; a lot of people, a lot of guitar players shy away when they are confronted by someone who walks the walk of what they perceive as an “academic” approach to music. The reality is this; if a musician is serious about it, they should spend many hours studying theory, composition, arranging, and musical history. They should make it a point to study substance.

So, back to John Stein.

I had never heard about John Stein, even though he’s originally from up the road in Kansas City, until I read about his new record “Encounterpoint” over at All About Jazz. Here’s the quote that made me pursue further.

“I look for musicians who pay attention and listen and respond to what they hear, “ he says. “You often hear musicians providing a pad and the soloist gets on top of it and blows licks over it. But I never enjoyed it that way. I’m much more interested in real interplay between musicians.”

See, that’s what I’m missing in the vast amount of musical bullshit that assaults me like a sonic wall cloud on a constant basis; real interplay between musicians. Everything is so edited, pro-tooled into lifeless product. It’s all over every genre too. But, what this guy is saying is the real stuff; sounds like he knows.

And, he does. Go to John Stein’s website and click on the title, “Encounterpoint”, to hear samples of the new record. He also has a section where he offers free downloads from previous records. Wonderful stuff.



Review: By Edward Blanco E Jazz News
WCS 042 - Encounterpoint
John Stein
The seventh album for guitarist John Stein, Encounterpoint offers four originals and five reworked standards in a repertoire of blues, bebop and even light bossa nova in a straight ahead contemporary jazz mode. Stein performs with a quartet of international players among them Brazilian drummer Ze Eduardo Nazario, Koichi Sato from Japan and bassist John Lockwood from South Africa. The influence of Brazilian music is quite pronounced here as Stein presents Duke Jordan’s “Jordu” with a decidedly Brazilian flavor. Antonio Carlos Jobim is well represented on the album as Stein records a duet of sorts with drummer Nazario in which, through the magic of overdubbing, finds Stein on bass as well as the guitar while the drummer plays the drums as well as other percussion parts. One of the best tunes on this disc is Stein’s rendition of Jobim’s classic “So’ Danco Samba” capturing some of the best guitar runs and tuneful play by the guitarist. Some of the finer originals include the boppish “Line Drive,” the light melody of “Trois” where Lockwood and Sato provide elegant solos and the blues-based “Half-Whole Blues.” There is one delicate and beautiful ballad not to be missed and that of course is the Raye/DePaul standard “You Don’t Know What Love Is” which provides a tasteful finale for the album While this is clearly a John Stein project, his band mates provide masterful support especially drummer/percussionist Nazario who plays a major role here as this recording is very percussive in nature and is hard-driving soloing is everywhere. Encounterpoint is one of the better rhythm-based sounds you will encounter. Delivering modern jazz music full of layered harmony and melodies performed by first-rate musicianship from John Stein and the band, this is one recording you won’t mind replaying often.

WCS 042 - Encounterpoint
John Stein
I'm no stranger to guitarist John Stein's albums (see elsewhere on this website for more reviews), so it wasn't surprising to be jolted awake on a sleepy autumn afternoon by opening tracks Jordu and Line Drive. His new album Encounterpoint thinks big and definitely sounds big - you will be amazed at how full-blown and spacious the four musicians can sound on this album. In fact the musicians on this album only met up to record it over the space of a few days, so to hear how well they meshed together is rather amazing. Supporting John Stein is John Lockwood on bass, Ze Eduardo Nazario on drums and percussion and Koichi Sato on keyboards - definitely the funkiest Japanese Hammond player I've ever heard! There is a latin vibe that permeates the album tracks to varying degrees of intensity, sometimes just a hint and at other times a Latino swagger. I do like Mr Stein's way of playing, he may be a jazz musician but he stays within the parameter of the melody, finding little avenues to explore that please the ear. The sound is undeniably smooth with a hint of edginess lurking underneath - I can imagine this music going down well in a club or at home, winding down after a heavy day with something cold in the hand. I think this is another winner and deserves to do well - I hope that jazz radio stations pick up on its playfulness and sassiness.

Review: By Wildy's World
WCS 042 - Encounterpoint
John Stein

John Stein is the sort of guitar player you build a band around. As former bandleader or sideman for the likes of David "Fathead Newman" and Lou Donaldson, Stein has proven himself to be a versatile and dynamic jazz man. For all great artists there are always songs that get held back for someday, when the perfect band or gig comes along. Rather than wait for the day to come along, Stein put together the band in the fall of 2007 for a weekend session in Boston. The result is Stein's 7th album, Encounterpoint. It may just be his best thus far.

Encounterpoint opens with Jordu, written by Duke Jordan and popularized by Clifford Brown; the melody literally jumps off Stein's fingers. What becomes apparent very quickly is that Stein has put together a super group of incredibly talented musicians. Stein's band includes drummer Ze Eduardo Nazario (Brazil); keyboardist Koichi Sato (Japan) and bassist John Lockwood (South Africa). There isn't a piece here that isn't played with expert delicacy and fabulous musical interplay. Check out the exquisite Line Drive where Sato takes center stage. Other notable tunes are Roundabout, Trois, and Carlos Jobim's Dindi.

John Stein is a virtuoso on jazz guitar. Encouterpoint is jazz as it is meant to be played -- vibrant and full of life. The creative sparks fly all over the place on Encounterpoint, as Stein raises his game to yet another level. It’s definitely worth the time to listen to.



Review: By Jan P. Dennis / Audiophile Audition
WCS 042 - Encounterpoint
John Stein
Deep swing combined with rhythmic flexibility and sophistication:  add consummate taste and bravura harmonies, and you’ve got a special session.  It’s taken a while for leader Stein, a mainstay of the Boston jazz scene, to find his ideal setting, but Encounterpoint very attractively exhibits the fruits of his decades-long recording ventures.  He’s assayed both organ and Brazilian jazz before.  Here he combines the two into a third thing.

There’s a fluency of expression, an easy mastery of the trickiest passages, a bravura assurance, that separates this disc from his entirely worthy but seldom transcendent efforts of the past.  A recent trip to Brazil, resulting in the fine disc Concerto Internacional de Jazz, provides the background to this captivating session.  Securing the services of Japanese keyboard wizard Koichi Sato seals the deal.  On Encounterpoint Stein’s combined the lessons learned at the hands of his Brazilian masters on the previous disc with the vibe of his Grant Green tribute, Green Street, to produce jazz of a very high order.  It was a great decision to retain Zé Eduardo Nazario on drums and percussion from that session.  What we get is a kind of deep bow toward bossa/samba sensibilities even as their essence morphs into an entirely North American jazz vibe.  Great stuff, if you can pull it off.

Review: By Rotcod Zzaj / Improvijazzation Nation
WCS 042 - Encounterpoint
John Stein
I first reviewed John's CD "Green Street" in issue features his superb guitar artistry in a very different vein... though his guitar & acoustic bass are still excellent, the tone of the compositions is much more cosmopolitan; sorta' "uptown", if you will! His quartet features the keyboards of Koichi Sato, acoustic bass by John Lockwood & drums/percussion by Ze Eduardo Nazario... truly international. You can get a preview (albeit a bit lo-fi) of my favorite cut, "Jordu", by clicking on the track title here... that tune clearly demonstrates how tight the players are together, as well as the sophistication of the compositions on this wonderful 7th album. There's a decidedly Latin feel to many of the pieces, but not in a "one orientation" sense; it's just that you can feel it as a part of his musical vision, & his talents shine through. This one is perfect for the headphone zone, & you should reserve a full hour to absorb all the pieces. Shades of the "Green Street" phunk peek through on "Half-Whole Blues", another favorite of mine; in the whole, this is one of the most enjoyable guitar-based CD's I've heard this year. I give "ENCOUNTERPOINT" an unequivocal MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating.

Review: By George W. Carroll
WCS 042 - Encounterpoint
John Stein
Formidable...........is the word I think of whenever I see
that premier bass player John Lockwood is part-parcel of any new CD project. A publicist is right when he says that Lockwood is the 1'st call for many of Boston's premier sessions. And, this is the type of player that jazz guitarist John Stein has surrounded himself with in his attempt to bring his musically animated CD project ''Encounterpoint'' to fruition. Stein's propensity to 'expand' on what he does in all aspects of his musicaly model is fortuitous............And, his ability to use harmonic texture and patterns to melodic advantage is something to behold. Stein's style is not reactionary. Rather, there's a spiritual serenity in his playing style as well as an noble simplicity & contrapuntal virtuosity in his delivery. Bless his artistry