109

Jeremy Steig/Vic Juris: Improvised

Paul Olson By

Sign in to view read count
Jeremy Steig/Vic Juris: Improvised Improvised, the debut duet album from super-veteran flautist Jeremy Steig and almost-as-seasoned guitarist Vic Juris, is just that: an album of almost completely improvised material. Recorded in Steig's home (don't be put off by that, by the way, because home recording has come a long, long way) in a situation where the two musicians played in separate rooms, connected only by headphones to each other, it's spontaneous musical communication of the highest order.

The album consists of 22 invented-on-the-spot originals and two standards, and only one of the originals—the eerie, minor-key "Two Act Play"—crosses the three-minute mark. The rest are brief, exploratory sketches where flute and acoustic guitar find a common terrain, look around for a little while, and recede before things get stale. It's atmosphere over formal composition, impressionism over meaty musical content, but these pieces are neither muzak nor pastel. Rather, they are a sort of music where the small gestures are the ones that matter: the brief flirtation with dissonance and "out" playing of "The Edge," Steig's quoting of "Dixie" in "F the Patriot," Juris' soundbox percussion on "Pick and Roll"—memorable, fascinating details that occur in deft, fleeting musical statements often based on no more than, say, a blues scale.

It's somewhat inherent that in a flute/guitar duet, the flute can seem more prominent, but Juris does much more than merely accompany Steig on these pieces; it's a two-way dialogue all the way. There's an audible playfulness in these recordings, too, that makes it abundantly clear that these two men aren't merely engaged: they're having fun.

The musicians here don't sound merely comfortable with each other: they sound joyously happy and relieved, as if they had been wishing for such a sympathetic partner to appear. The chordal, quickly responsive comping of Juris' acoustic seem tailor made to Steig's ruminations, and the same relaxed intimacy pervades the two covers. Charlie Parker's "Billie's Bounce," while completely musically faithful, has been effectively "de-bebopped" (the nervous, skittering intensity of the original has been replaced with the rockin'-chair groove of this musical setting), despite the fact that Steig's solo therein swings mercilessly. Thelonious Monk's "Friday the Thirteenth" is even better, though, with a partially vocalized flute solo that is downright, and perhaps here incongruously, intense.

The two standards are, in fact, so good that to this listener they point to the next recorded step for this terrific new duo. Fine though the improvised numbers that make up most of Improvised are, I'm strongly hoping for a followup of more composed material, be it Steig's and Juris' own pieces or others'. This is too good a combination to end here.


Track Listing: 1. Villa of Funk 2. A Quiet Moment 3. Pick and Roll 4. Billie's Bounce 5. Buffle Off to Shuffalo 6. Theme and Dreams 7. F the Patriot 8. Frac's Domain 9. Shinigawa Station 10. The Edge 11. Solo I 12. Solo II 13. Back Beat 14. The Carnival 15. Friday the Thirteenth 16. Hide and Freak 17. Vocal Ease 18. Freescape 19. Sweet Suite 20. The Climb 21. Trills and Spills 22. E Whiz 23. Two Act Play 24. Southern Exposure

Personnel: Jeremy Steig: flute, bass flute; Vic Juris: acoustic guitar

Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Steig Music Company | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Road to Forever CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Avenida Graham CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2) CD/LP/Track Review TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2)
by Nicola Negri
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Goat Man & The House of the Dead CD/LP/Track Review Goat Man & The House of the Dead
by Dave Wayne
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by James Nadal
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "Sedimental You" CD/LP/Track Review Sedimental You
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 29, 2016
Read "Poetry For The Beat Generation" CD/LP/Track Review Poetry For The Beat Generation
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: December 11, 2016
Read "Big City Love" CD/LP/Track Review Big City Love
by Edward Blanco
Published: April 24, 2016
Read "New York Connections" CD/LP/Track Review New York Connections
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: August 7, 2016
Read "X-Ray Search Light Project: Djuke Music" CD/LP/Track Review X-Ray Search Light Project: Djuke Music
by Dave Wayne
Published: May 19, 2016
Read "Early Americans" CD/LP/Track Review Early Americans
by Ian Patterson
Published: September 22, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!