FEATURING (CLICK A NAME TO EXPAND)
+ Steve Smith (Steps Ahead/Journey) — drumsThe “best of both worlds” is a theme for Steve Smith’s career that has taken him from rock stardom with the band Journey to the legendary fusion band Steps Ahead, his recent collaborations with Raga Bop Trio with George Brooks and Prasanna, touring with Hiromi – The Trio Project, to supporting musical icons Ahmad Jamal, Zakir Hussain, and Jean-Luc Ponty. In the last ten years, Smith has also led, or co-led, fifteen different jazz or jazz/ rock projects for the Tone Center label. <<READ MORE>>+ Andy Fusco (Buddy Rich/Mel Lewis) — alto sax Andy Fusco was the lead alto saxophonist of the Buddy Rich Big Band from 1978-1983. He has toured with a number of other legendary performers including Gerry Mulligan, Mel Lewis, Frank Sinatra, and John Pizzarelli, and is widely recorded both as a sideman and the leader of his own ensemble.+ Vinny Valentino (Jimmy McGriff/Bill Evans) — guitarVinny Valentino has been a member of Vital Information since 2006. George Benson refers to Vinny as a "young genius with brilliant tone and fresh ideas." Vinny has shared the stage or recording studio with such jazz greats as Jimmy McGriff, Randy Brecker, Bill Evans, Richard Bona and George Benson. Vinny is also a bandleader touring and recording with his own groups.+ Mark Soskin (Sonny Rollins/Herbie Mann) — keyboardsMark Soskin is an in-demand sideman, a hard working bandleader, and a gifted composer/ arranger. He has recorded and performed with such diverse musicians as Sonny Rollins, Joe Henderson, Randy Brecker, Billy Cobham, Buster Williams, Eddie Henderson, Stanley Turrentine, and Herbie Mann. His latest recording is entitled Man Behind the Curtain and features Ravi Coltrane, Bill Stewart and Jay Anderson.+ Baron Browne (Billy Cobham/Jean Luc-Ponty) — bassBaron Browne is one of the most versatile and creative bassists on the scene today. He has toured and recorded with an array of artists including Billy Cobham, Jean-Luc Ponty, Gary Burton, Steps Ahead, Mike Stern, and Tom Jones.
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!”