Jason Stein is among the mere handful of improvisers who play the bass clarinet exclusively. Stein leads the acclaimed trio Locksmith Isidore as well as his own quartet. He contributes to several of the leading bands on Chicago’s new-music scene and has brought a vital voice to the freest of free-jazz jams. Stein’s playing showcases an extraordinary expertise on the bass clarinet, which ranges from powerful post-bop lines to ear-grabbing wails in the altissimo range. Chicago writer Neil Tesser notes that “Stein’s playing has a rawboned swagger particular to Chicago jazz in all its manifestations – from the trad playing of Bud Freeman and Jimmy McPartland in the 20s, through the tenor titans of the 50s, through the adventurers who formed the AACM in the 60s, and right up to the city’s renowned modern cadre of new-music improvisers.” Stein moved to Chicago in 2005 and has since recorded for such labels as Leo, Delmark, Not Two, Atavistic, 482 Music, Clean Feed, Astral Spirits, and Northern Spy. Stein has performed throughout the US and Europe as both a bandleader and sideman and has amassed a discography of over 40 albums.
“During a career that’s propelled him to the upper echelon of Chicago’s vibrant improvised music scene, Jason Stein is doing for the bass clarinet what Steve Lacy had done for the soprano sax. By looking forward while never losing sign of tradition, he’s modeled himself after the paths of jazz innovators before him to forge his own track.”
— S. VICTOR AARON, SOMETHING ELSE!
“Stein has perfected a style of focused yet incendiary sonic exploration.”
— BRIAN ZIMMERMAN, DOWNBEAT
“Stein has been a fixture on Chicago’s jazz and improvised-music scene for 12 years, playing his notoriously unwieldy instrument with fluidity, soul, and grace.”
— PETER MARGASAK, CHICAGO READER