In a musical world where keeping a working band has proven difficult for many bandleaders, drummer-bandleader Steve Smith has managed to keep two bands working for the past decade. Smith’s jazz-rock band Vital Information, has been working and recording for 29 years, while his straight-ahead group Jazz Legacy (which began as a Buddy Rich alumni group called Buddy’s Buddies) has been touring and recording since 1999. Therefore, it makes perfect sense for this prolific bandleader, who has made a career out of amalgamating the many twists of his musical calling, to create a new band, Vital Information – NYC Edition, which Smith refers to as, “The best of both worlds!”
The lineup of Vital Information – NYC Edition brings together members of both bands: saxophonist Andy Fusco (from Jazz Legacy) guitarist Vinny Valentino (from Vital Information), pianist Mark Soskin (from Jazz Legacy), bassist Baron Browne (from Jazz Legacy and Vital Information), and Steve Smith manning the drums. Smith describes the line-up: “We used to have a sax player in Vital Information, in fact, Bill Evans played on our most recent recording, Vitalization. So to have saxophonist Andy Fusco playing melodies and solos on the Vital Information tunes simultaneously adds another dimension, while also bringing back a sound from our formative years. Plus Andy has a very unique take on the jazz/rock material. Vinny Valentino has a strong ‘straight-ahead’ background, so we can play the Jazz Legacy material with him playing the tenor parts on the guitar. Consequently, he plays in the ‘front line’ on the Jazz Legacy tunes. Keyboardist Mark Soskin simply tears up the Vital Information material. He plays the Fender Rhodes and acoustic piano in Vital Information – NYC Edition and has a strong background of playing both straight-ahead and fusion. The highly versatile bassist Baron Browne and I are in both bands, so that’s the easy part, we already know all of the music!”
As an artist Steve Smith has a relentless thirst for knowledge, a quest for self-improvement and is constantly combining his varied influences into an inclusive and cohesive whole. His bands mirror these characteristics as well. The evolution of Vital Information has gone through many phases and currently combines his passion for rhythms from India with a soulful, U.S. roots oriented, jazz/funk direction.
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featuring Steve Smith / Andy Fusco / Mark Soskin / Baron Browne / Vinny Valentino