Lodestar is the new original music release by Stockton Helbing, the current drummer for jazz legend Maynard Ferguson. Lodestar is an instrumental album that blends the creativity of jazz music with the accessibility of pop music. The original compositions offer memorable melodies while serving as vehicles for improvisation.
Lodestar, released in February 2005, is Stockton's debut album as a bandleader. Lodestar was selected by Maynard Ferguson as the newest album in his MF Presents series, making Stockton the only drummer and the youngest musician to hold the honor.
Lodestar features Ken Edwards on trumpet and flugelhorn, Tom Luer on tenor saxophone, Noel Johnston on guitar, Brian Mulholland on bass, and Stockton Helbing on drums and cymbals. All are graduates of the University of North Texas.
The following is a review from JAZZIZ magazine:
Those expecting more of the high-voltage jazz Helbing drives along as drummer for Maynard Ferguson’s Big Bop Nouveau are in for a pleasant surprise. Helbing and his cohorts cover a lot of ground here, from ECM-style ballads to more traditional combo-style fare, always with personality and originality.
Helbing is content to remain mostly in the background on this disc, disavowing the flashy solos and riffs that mark much of his work onstage with Ferguson. Instead, the spotlight is on trumpeter Ken Edwards and saxophonist Tom Luer. They provide a one-two punch, keeping the melodies moving along and harmonizing and soloing effectively. On “Departure,” Edwards opens on flugelhorn before Luer joins in and then takes over. Bassist Brian Mulholland demonstrates both flash and finesse, his mind keeping up with his fingers, before Edwards and Luer play call and response and then harmonize to the end.
The following “In The Next” is even more delicate, with guitarist Noel Johnston taking the spotlight. He’s the secret weapon here. As the only chording instrument, he’s an essential part of the background for Edwards and Luer. But his solos on “In The Next” or his own “Stocktorb” show imagination and chops, equal parts John Scofield and Pat Metheny.
If you didn’t know, you’d really have no idea who the leader is here. And you suspect that’s just fine with Helbing. He doesn’t step into the spotlight until “Sell Out,” the next-to-last track, and then he’s still more about taste and dynamics than flash and razzle dazzle. Which can be said about the album as a whole.