Stein Brothers Quintet
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Stein Brothers Quintet

Jersey City, New Jersey, United States

Jersey City, New Jersey, United States
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Recall a classic bebop ensemble, such as Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers; think of some of the idiom's elite composers, like Horace Silver, Barry Harris; add dynamic front line fraternities such as Lee Morgan and Wayne Shorter or Harold Land and Carmell Jones and you'll get a sense of the New Jersey's sax-playing Stein brothers debut disc…they deliver a bright, buoyant sound on exceptional originals that square neatly with standards


- by Ashante Infantry


5 Stars

The sounds of bop at its best resound beautifully throughout this
superb album…This recording is more than a joy, it reaffirms my belief that there are
musicians out there whose ears are unsullied by the excesses of fusion and music of that ilk. My hat is doffed, rolled down my arm and caught deftly in a salute to this masterful ensemble. The music of Bird and Dizzy is in good hands with the Steins and their 'worthy constituents. (as Bird would say)

- by John Gilbert


The brotherly saxophone duo of Alex and Asher Stein makes its extraordinary record debut with the very boppish Quixotic, which surprisingly turns out to be one of the finest bop-infused albums of the year…For bebop served hot, take a bite out of The Stein Brothers' debut, Quixotic. This one sizzles all over with exciting grooves and tasteful solos, leaving one wanting more. Alex and Asher Stein play like they've been doing this for twenty years with much to offer, and Quixotic is only the beginning.
- by Edward Blanco


CD discovery of the week. Several times over the past week I was tricked into thinking the Stein Brothers Quintet's album Quixotic (2008) was from the late 1950s. Listening while writing, I completely forgot which CD I had put on but twice looked up from what I was doing, wondering which Bob Cooper and Herb Geller album was on.

The Stein Brothers truly are remarkable, and this album is a must for anyone who thinks that the 1950s sound has been forgotten.

I was tipped off to these New Jersey brothers by reader John Herr, who sent me a link to a track. Skeptical, I clicked through prepared to dismiss the group as just more of the same (I'm spoiled). Instead, I was floored. Alex Stein on tenor sax and brother Asher Stein on alto sax may look like young folks, but their souls are mighty old. The pair has been leading bands since early 2001, when they both were undergraduates at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As David Orthmann points out in his fine liner notes: "Evincing a maturity beyond their years, and perhaps owing to their association with bop guru Barry Harris, the brothers play with a conviction that transcends the imitation of primary influences."

And how. They've also done their listening. You can hear the mid-1950s in every track, including the swinging attacks, East Coast hard-bop lines, rich West Coast counterpoint, and advanced phrasing. Most of all, you hear taste (remember that?) and meaningful solos. The Stein Brothers don't cheaply parrot the decade's sound like so many revival groups today. They have fully absorbed and interpreted the approach, which is why this CD is so refreshing.

I do not know Alex and Asher, but I'm guessing they spent many hours after high school stretched out on the floor listening to their dad's extensive LP or CD collection. There's quite a bit of Gerry Mulligan and Al Cohn in their writing and doses of Sonny Stitt and Zoot Sims in their playing. An unpretentious tribute, Quixotic also is free of hokey tags and camp references. The Stein Brothers seem to get that cool isn't about being blatant. It's about doing your thing passionately and being discovered doing it.

Best of all, there isn't a modal scale or music conservatory gimmick to be heard here. The Stein Brothers have enormous respect for space, and they've managed to resist the urge to cram every measure with flurries of notes. If I gave you a blindfold test using this album, you'd be here all night dinging off the names of jazz legends, not these guys. This album is that good.

The Stein Brothers also have great taste in sidemen: Mferghu is on piano, Doug Largent on bass, Joe Blaxx on drums, with guests Duane Eubanks on trumpet and Jonathan Voltzok on trombone. Five of the 12 tracks are Stein originals, and three are by Mferghu—a bop practitioner in the Barry Harris mold who also has gorgeous taste. There also are a few smartly chosen standards (Embraceable You, This Time the Dream's on Me and East of the Sun).

For the Stein Brothers to have this much taste at such an early point in their careers is scary—and encouraging. Maybe the good stuff is coming back after all. For more about the Stein Brothers, visit their site here. Quixotic is available on CD here or at iTunes as a download. - by Marc Myers


Discography

Quixotic

Photos

Bio

Although well known in the Greater North Jersey Area with a growing New York presence, Asher (alto sax) and Alex (tenor sax) are still in their twenties. The Brothers began their careers at the late, lamented Peppermint Lounge, a famous jazz organ venue in Orange, NJ with a longstanding Tuesday night jam session. There, from the ages of 10 and 13, they met and performed with such greats as Jimmy McGriff and Charles Earland. Frequently staying out late on school nights, accompanied by their father, the Stein Brothers became a fixture on the larger Newark jazz scene.

The brothers began co-leading bands in 2001, when they were both undergraduates at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. They have since appeared at the Sarasota, Mackinac Island, and Cape May Jazz Festivals as well as in prime New York City jazz rooms Sweet Rhythm, Smalls, Fatcat, the Kitano and Dizzy's Club at Jazz at Lincoln Center among others. They have toured as part of TS Monk's Sextet and have shared the bandstand with Barry Harris, Lou Donaldson, Slide Hampton and others.

The Brothers have received invaluable guidance over the course of the last decade from Barry Harris, who not only boasts Donald Byrd and Charles McPherson as some of his earliest students, but was also sought out by John Coltrane during a trip to Detroit in the early '60s. Accordingly, they draw their inspiration from Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Thelonious Monk – the pioneers of the revolutionary brand of jazz known as bebop. Yet according to David Orthmann of All About Jazz, "the brothers play with a conviction that transcends the imitation of primary influences. Most importantly, they both meet the essential requirement of any real jazz musician—that is, to find and refine one's own voice."

The Stein Brothers' debut CD Quixotic was released earlier this year on the Jazzed Media label; the disc got positive reviews and significant radio play, peaking at #16 on the Jazz Charts.

Members of the Stein Brothers Quintet also include Harlem's Mferghu on piano, Brooklyn's Doug Largent on bass and Queens' Joe Blaxx on drums.