Biography All Music Guide
All Music Guide:
Recognized as one of the finest guitarists among his peers, Mike Stern was born on January 10, 1953, in Boston, Massachusetts, but grew up in Washington, D.C. before returning to Boston to study at the Berklee School of Music. Stern was only 22 when he joined Blood, Sweat & Tears, for whom he played three years before signing on with Billy Cobham's jazz fusion outfit, which led to Stern's big breakthrough when Miles Davis enlisted him as guitarist for Davis' return from a five-year musical hiatus in 1981. Stern played and recorded with Davis until 1983, when Stern toured with Jaco Pastorius, but he rejoined Davis in 1985, which also brought about Stern's debut release as a leader, the warmly received Neesh. This time, Stern remained with Davis for a year, after which he cycled through projects by David Sanborn and Steps Ahead while simultaneously recording his follow-up to Neesh, titled Upside Downside, which marked his first release for Atlantic Records' jazz division. Stern continued a steady string of releases for Atlantic over the next few years while continuing to play with several other projects, including Michael Brecker and the reunited Brecker Brothers, eventually scoring his first Grammy nomination with the release of Is What It Is in 1994, then garnering another nomination for his 1996 follow-up, Between the Lines. Stern received his third Grammy nod for his 2001 release Voices, which was Stern's first recording with vocals -- albeit wordless vocalese -- and also marked the end of his tenure with Atlantic. Stern issued his debut album for ESC in early 2004, and two years later, with a cast of impressive backing musicians (Richard Bona, Meshell Ndegeocello, Roy Hargrove, and Kim Thompson, among others), Who Let the Cats Out was released. A collaboration with guitarist Eric Johnson, Eclectic, appeared in 2014.