Cornelia Street Cafe

25 February 2005

NY Jazz Report's Thad Kawecki and Will Wolf stopped by the Cornelia Street Cafe on Friday 11.February.2005 to catch the Jeremy Steig Quartet. Steig's recent CD with guitarist Vic Juris is entitled "Improvised."

Jeremy Steig
Vic Juris
Bill Moring
Anthony Pinciotti


Friday the 13th
You Don't Know What Love Is
All Blues
Samba De Orpheus

On stage Jeremy Steig is not a man of many words. And throughout this performance at the Cornelia Street Cafe he was mostly silent. (On two separate occasions he thanked the audience for their applause, and when the show ended he introduced his bandmates). However, he became completely energized, totally animated whenever he communicated through the magic of his flute, letting everyone in the room know exactly what was on his mind. Steig's playing brings him to life, and on this night of "Rough Jazz" with his quartet, he was very much alive.

Indeed. Steig displayed an extroverted style marked by explosive sprints in double-time, soaring wide-ranged flights, and the frequent use of a vocalized intonation that added edge to a concept steeped in blues, bop, and modal jazz. With the exception of the spare, freely improvised intros to "Solar" and "All Blues " (essentially duets with the introspective Vic Juris) his playing was intense and florid.

Over time Steig and Juris have developed a unique bond, and the contrasting psychodynamics of their performing styles is a significant element in the success of their sound. And beginning with the very first tune of the evening, Monk's "Friday the 13th," Juris was always there, right on target (adding his own edge) with his pointed, angular riffs, providing a distinct accent and sharp counterbalance to Steig. He left his watermark on every tune.

Juris, aided by the counterpoint of bassist Bill Moring, was the prime harmonic mover of the quartet. With influences ranging from rock to contemporary classical, his approach included single line play, chord solos, the use of electronic effects, and a spacious way of comping that opened up a tune and allowed it to breathe.

And in the small confines of the Cornelia Street Cafe, where sound balancing can sometimes be a tricky proposition, drummer Anthony Pinciotti intelligently added just the right amount of rhythmic juice.

On the other hand, the cafe's modest dimensions allowed for an intimate view of the quartet and some detail of its performance: Pinciotti 's brushwork and controlled solo in the samba, Moring stepping forward as an equal voice to help melt the time as he did in "Solar," Juris' modulated ending of "You Don't Know What Love Is," and Steig's primal scream of a solo in the same tune, to name just a few. And if this set was "rough jazz," it's only because it bore no resemblance to that bland genre that calls itself "smooth."

That's for sure. Nothing bland was going on here. This was an evening of high energy with Steig and his quartet lighting up the room. And when it was all over, the audience left revitalized. And like Steig, very much alive.

Improvised CD

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