Interviews & Features

Mike Stern interview

Jazz guitar luminary talks about rebounding after a major injury, his time working with Miles Davis and more

By David Sands
October 20, 2017

If there were a Knights of the Round Table for jazz guitarists, Mike Stern would certainly be there among the beloved heroes of the realm, brandishing his axe in the service of inspired music. A luminary by anyone’s measure, he’s made a name for himself over the last few decades conjuring up a vital incarnation of jazz informed by blues, bebop and rock. After studying at the Berklee College of Music, he got his his first big break playing in Blood, Sweat & Tears in the late 1970s. From there he went on to play with Billy Cobham’s fusion band, was recruited into Miles Davis’ lineup from 1981-1983, left to tour with Jaco Pastorius, and returned to tour with Davis in 1985.

After that he went onto launch a successful solo career, releasing 17 recordings as band leader, six of which received Grammy nominations. He’s also been the recipient of numerous honors, including the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal’s 2007 Miles Davis Award,which was created to recognize internationally acclaimed jazz artists whose body of work has contributed significantly to the renewal of the genre, and being listed as one of Down Beat’s 75 Best Jazz Guitarists of All Time in Jan. 2009.

After a terrible accident that led to two broken arms in 2016, Stern is back on top of his game with a new album called Trip. Mike opened up about recovering from his recent injury, equipment, future ambitions and other topics during a recent meetup with FGPO’s Jon Liebman at the Music Hall in Detroit, Michigan.

Watch Mike’s interview here!