Support All About Jazz

All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Pay $20 and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page, plus this box and the slideout box on the right for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.


I want to help
253

Steve Smith's Vital Information Performs at the Bach, Half Moon Bay, CA

Bill Leikam By

Sign in to view read count Views
Steve Smith and Vital Information
Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society
Half Moon Bay, California
November 11, 2007

What do you get when you bring together the intricate and spirited beat of Steve Smith (drums and vocals) with the driving pulse of Baron Browne (bass), the virtuosity of Vinny Valentino (guitar & vocals), and the sonic blisters of Tom Coster (keyboards & accordion) playing The Bach on a November Sunday? Nothing less than a formidable juggernaut of a band called Steve Smith and Vital Information. Felix Contreras of JazzTimes writes, "Vital Information is one of ... music's best-kept secrets. The tunes are adventurous and they always groove. The musicians shoot for, and achieve, real emotion rather than soulless fireworks." The group on this occasion substantiated the claim. Their unique arrangements brought fresh power to the stage, and their tunes ranged from ballads to hard-hitting rock-jazz. It was commonplace to hear comments like "Wow, that band was tight!

But Steve Smith and Vital Information were beyond tight, playing with the precision of a scalpel. It was clear from their playful expressions, spontaneous movements, and level of improvisational interplay that they love playing with each another, especially in concert. Their repertory extended to Eastern Indian time signatures along with konakkol passages (patterned vocalizations) mixed with tinges of innovative, "psychedelic" riffs from Vinny's guitar. As an introduction to the unfamiliar patterns the band freely employs, Tom Coster led the audience in rhythmic clapping to the seven and a half time of a fifteen beat cycle, then proceeded to impress the audience with his mastery of the accordion.

Rare, especially for the sophisticated Bach audience, were the standing ovations the band received at the end of both sets. They reciprocated with an encore to the vociferously appreciative, packed house—a stirring blues/jazz tune dedicated to Pete Douglas and The Bach. As the band departed the stage, several in the audience shouted, "Please come back. Douglas was heard to say, "This was our best performance!

A review of the occasion would be incomplete without some background, courtesy of Linda Goetz, on the Bach: "This year Pete Douglas is celebrating 50 years on Miramar Beach. It was 50 years ago that Pete arrived at [here] and bought a run-down beer joint which is the existing cottage in front. Almost immediately musicians and other bohemians were attracted to his beat scene. Now in 2007, we still come to the Bach to enjoy some of the finest jazz on the planet—and all because of Pete's early love of music and Miramar Beach. Even apart from the excellent music, this unique venue clearly deserves our support.


Shop For Jazz

Interviews
Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Viewpoint
Viewpoint
Varese Sarabande
2015
buy
Live! One Great Night
Live! One Great Night
BFM Jazz
2012
buy
The Best of Steve Smith - The Tone Center Collection
The Best of Steve...
Tone Center
2009
buy
Vitalization
Vitalization
Hudson Music
2007
buy
Very Live at Ronnie Scott's
Very Live at Ronnie...
Tone Center
2003
buy
Reimagined, Vol. 1: Jazz Standards
Reimagined, Vol. 1:...
Bluejay Records
2003
buy
Alphonse Mouzon Alphonse Mouzon
multi-instrumentalist
Bill Bruford Bill Bruford
drums
Larry Coryell Larry Coryell
guitar
Dave Weckl Dave Weckl
drums
Lenny White Lenny White
drums
Everette Harp Everette Harp
saxophone
Steve Gadd Steve Gadd
drums

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.