Dave Sterner is carrying on Cleveland’s long and rich tradition of outstanding jazz saxophonists, a tradition that includes such names as Joe Lovano and Ernie Krivda. An alto and soprano saxophonist, Sterner is building his reputation not just with his wide-ranging and creative playing, but also with his composing.
After his first CD as a leader, What’s What in 2006, which included eight originals, the Mentor High School and Indiana University graduate planned to quickly produce a second album featuring more of his compositions, but in his words, "I got sidetracked." He was busy recording two CDs with drummer N. Glenn Davis (including one with the legendary Phil Woods), playing with Krivda’s Fat Tuesday Big Band, teaching jazz at Cuyahoga Community College, directing the Lakeland Community College Civic Jazz Orchestra, and running the Lakeland Jazz Festival. After all these distractions, Sterner decided to title his long-delayed second CD Sidetracked.
For this outing, he formed a quintet consisting of tenor saxophonist Chris Burge, pianist Roger Friedman, acoustic bassist Glenn Holmes, and drummer Paul Samuels.
Sidetracked includes nine more Sterner compositions in a variety of styles. "Min-or Yours" is a basic bebop ride that features solos from all five members of the group. "Where Y’at" (a common New Orleans greeting) was inspired by the music of native New Orleans saxophonist John Ellis. "Rotten Eggs" is a funky blues number à la Joshua Redman. "Problem Solved" is an up tempo hard bop romp. "Waiting" is a straight eighth ballad featuring Friedman’s beautiful piano intro followed by Sterner and Burge soloing simultaneously on soprano and tenor saxes. "Looking Glass" is a jazz waltz featuring Sterner’s alto. "Midlife Crisis" is a fast funk number that gets to the soloing right away. "What’d He Say? I Don’t Know" features Holmes’ bass and the two saxes stretching out. And "Samba Dis, Samba Dat" is an up tempo samba showcasing an unaccompanied sax duet.
The tenth track, "Not Quite Yet," was composed by Friedman. It combines the styles of Afro-Cuban music and swing.
Reflecting Sterner’s many diverse jazz activities, Sidetracked offers a wide variety of original music performed by a very talented and imaginative jazz group.