Mike Stern is a preeminent guitarist for two key reasons: One, he can play all styles very well and with equal command; and two, he plays very well with all other players. He always shows great respect for those with whom he is playing and gives them each the time and space to develop their musical ideas. Stern displays these two qualities in abundance on Play. Several notable guests join Stern and his core band for this release. Guitarists John Scofield and Bill Frisell and drummer Dennis Chambers each team with Stern on several tracks. If you enjoy straight-ahead jazz, listen to Stern and Scofield on the title track, or mix in Bob Malach's tenor sax on "Outta Town." If you like your guitar music slightly more spacious and lyrical, try Stern and Frisell on the hypnotic "Blue Tone" or the pensive "All Heart." Finally, if you want to turn up the heat and move into some rock/funk-influenced fusion, then check out the groovy "Tipatina's," the bold rocker "Link," or the intensely funky "Big Kids." It is no surprise, based on his other work, that Chambers, in particular, gives the band a kick in the musical pants inspiring bassist Lincoln Goines to enjoy the ride. Play is an outstanding guitar album from the highly accomplished and incredibly versatile Mike Stern. It is highly recommended.
AllMusic Review by Brian Bartolini