Smith (Steps Ahead/Journey) - drums
Andy Fusco (Buddy Rich/Mel Lewis) - alto sax
Mark Soskin (Sonny Rollins/Herbie Mann) - keyboards
Vinny Valentino (Jimmy McGriff/Bill Evans) - guitar
Baron Browne (Jean-Luc Ponty/Billy Cobham) – bass
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 27 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 Legacy, which Smith refers to as, “The best of both worlds!”
The lineup of Vital Legacy 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 tears up the Vital Information material. He plays the Fender Rhodes and acoustic piano in Vital Legacy and has a strong background of playing both straight-aheaand 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!”
The “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, 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. The label has recently released Best Of Steve Smith – The Tone Center Collection. His educational Hudson Music DVD's Steve Smith - Drumset Technique/History of the U.S. Beat and his latest DVD Drum Legacy-Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants are best sellers in the music educational market. The latter recently won Drum! magazines Best Educational DVD for 2008. Smith’s constantly evolving drumming career has earned him Modern Drummer Magazine's #1 All Around Drummer award five years in a row, which led to him being voted one of the Top 25 Drummers of All Time. In 2002 Smith was also voted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame.