Guitarist Mike Stern and tenor saxophonist Bob Berg pretty much roared through the first of three shows Friday night at At My Place, playing their distinctive brand of contemporary jazz with a brazen directness that left little room for subtlety.
The leaders' New York-based foursome--including electric bassist Lincoln Goines and drummer Dennis Chambers--worked with an in-your-face attitude, creating an undeniable sense of excitement and tension, here and there throwing the spotlight on virtuosic performances.
Berg--a technically masterful, lean, mean music machine--used a rich, gnarly sound to spew out streams of notes on top of a thack-a-whack, rock-based beat from Chambers. Sometimes the saxophonist took over the role of the drums, repeating rapid four- and five-note figures several times and momentarily altering the rhythmic basis of the number.
Stern's solo was less note-packed than his partner's, as he employed jack-rabbit, up-and-down-the-instrument passages, chunky block chords and Hendrix-like lines--as well as some welcome space between these various figures.
The frenetic nature of the show made it fun and, to a degree, thrilling. But one left feeling undernourished.