LIVE: Steve Smith’s Vital Legacy @ the Van Dyck, 2/21/10

February 26th, 2010, 12:02 pm by Greg

Steve Smith

Steve Smith

Steve Smith’s Vital Legacy is perfect for this fuel-efficient age because it’s a hybrid: It mixes aspects and elements of the fusion unit Vital Information and the straight-ahead outfit Jazz Legacy, with a side order of music from the Buddy Rich tribute band Smith fronted a few years ago. However, the entire set was pushed through the souped-up electric matrix Smith built with Vital Information almost three decades ago. As a result, Smith’s quintet hit classics like “Bemsha Swing” and “A Night in Tunisia” like a juiced-up outfielder hits a hanging curve ball.

Audience members whose knowledge of Smith went as far as “Don’t Stop Believing” had to be blown away by the sheer thunder he continually conjured up.

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Flashback: Blotto Meets Journey, 1979

February 18th, 2010, 1:34 pm by Greg

Yeah, I know. After all of the hoopla last week regarding the Blotto reunion concert at the Exit Dome, you probably don’t want to hear about Blotto for another, well, say, 30 more years.

I don’t blame ya. Me, either.

But there is that funny Blotto story about jamming with some of the guys from Journey at 17 Maple Ave. in Saratoga Springs (now known as Mare). Tom Keyser alluded to it in his Preview cover story in The Times Union last week. And you can read the whole story as I wrote it about a decade ago.

But it just so happens that Steve Smith – who was the drummer in Journey back on that fateful night in 1979 – is headed into the Van Dyck in Schenectady for two shows (6 & 9:30pm) on Sunday evening with his current band, Steve Smith’s Jazz Legacy.

The lineup of Smith’s band also features alto saxophonist Andy Fusco (Buddy Rich/Mel Lewis); tenor and soprano saxophonist Walt Weiskopf (Buddy Rich/Steely Dan); pianist Mark Soskin (Sonny Rollins/Herbie Mann); bassist Baron Browne (Vital Information/Billy Cobham).

“Part of our mission will be to perform music honoring great drummers of jazz history,” explains Smith. “We have charts dedicated to Philly Joe Jones and Art Blakey, and we’re developing new material for each tour. We also intend to carry on the tradition of many of the drummer-led jazz bands, which is to communicate with music lovers of all generations, strive for excellence and play non-compromising, burning, straight-ahead jazz.”

Sounds good to me. Maybe I’ll have to drop by on Sunday, and say hi to our old pal Steve.

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