Michael "Patches" Stewart

Blue Patches

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To say that Michael "Patches" Stewart is influenced by Miles Davis would be an understatement. He gained his first recognition for his work with Marcus Miller's band, playing muted a la Miles as the ensemble constantly paid tribute to Davis' 1980s fusion band. This particular CD is a bit different in that the music is acoustic. Stewart's muted work on the first two songs ("In Your Own Sweet Way" and "Stella By Starlight," which coincidentally share the same two opening notes in their melodies) is dreamy, atmospheric and essentially superior background music. But while Stewart sounds too close for comfort to Davis on those numbers, he shows much more personality throughout much of the rest of the date. After "Caruso" (the third straight muted ballad), "Pfrancing" and particularly the closing "One for Daddy-O" finds him displaying some unexpected fire. Saxophonist Gerald Albright guests on those two songs, and his very effective hard bop solos should surprise listeners who gave up on him due to his long string of R&B-ish crossover dates. Another departure is "Fly Me to the Moon," which has some quiet electronic backup for the basic singing of Rebecka Tomqvist. "My Foolish Heart," "I Waited for You" and "Alone Together," while tasteful, offer no real surprises. When playing openly and occasionally getting away from the melodic ballad statements, Michael "Patches" Stewart displays potential and skill in the straight-ahead jazz genre, particularly when he stops closely emulating Miles Davis.

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