When he enrolled in the U-M jazz program, Stein knew he wanted to play only the bass clarinet, and he never wavered from his commitment. Since graduation he has been living and playing in Chicago, where he quickly established himself on the local scene. Although primarily interested in more avant-garde ways of playing, he is equally at home in the standard jazz repertoire, having learned the ways of bop from the late master saxophonist Donald Walden. He has traveled all over the globe as a member of one of Ken Vandemark's groups, and now is making a mark on his own. His latest recording, which has just come out, is an adventurous solo outing. This takes both courage and imagination, since offhand I can think of only three other improvised solo bass clarinet records. Stein explores the full potential of his instrument, mixing abandonment with a firmly grounded mastery of technique, but all for imaginative musical ends. He is the opening act of Edgefest on October 14 at the Kerrytown Concert House.
[Originally published in October, 2009.]