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David Royko Psy.D

Music Ramble: Don Stiernberg - Swing 220 (Blue Night Records)

I've just spent a couple of blissful hours listening to one of the best jazz mandolin albums I've ever heard (a couple hours because I pressed play again as soon as the last track was over), Don Stiernberg's "Swing 220" (on the Blue Night label). As is typical with Don, he underestimates his own work -- this could be titled "Swing Doctorate." Fourteen jazz standards, masterpieces all, given exquisite interpretations. Guitarist Jeff Jenkins and bassist Rusty Holloway helped Don (who also overdubbed some additional rhythm guitar) create an album any fan of swinging string jazz will eat up. There isn't a single flashy phrase to be heard, the rhythm is never pushed but instead dances lightly while always moving forward, and solo after solo delight with imaginative, original ideas. Don’s never made a less-than-good album. This is a great album.

David Royko, September 8, 2010