Steve Smith & Vital Information fit the bill on both counts as they continue their anniversary tour throughout the country while promoting their just-released album, "Live! One Great Night."
The tour, and the band that Smith says "is in high gear now," performs two shows Sunday at Blues Alley before moving on.
|Steve Smith & Vital Information|
|Where: Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW|
|When: 8 and 10 p.m. Sunday|
|Info: $25; 202-337-4141; bluesalley.com|
"We've been playing Blues Alley for about 20 years now," Smith said from the tour bus taking the group into New York City before its trek south. "It's a small venue and an ideal [one] because we get a lot of intricacies out there; it's easy for the audiences to hear all of the details in our playing."
Smith's professional career as a drummer began at age 19 as part of the Lin Biviano Big Band, a gig he held for two years before his association with jazz-fusion violinist Jean-Luc Ponty's group. Not long after that, he found himself performing with Journey, where his prowess as a drummer was heard by rock audiences. In 1985, he left Journey in favor of jazz and his own jazz-fusion band, Vital Information, which he put together while still touring with Journey.
Smith was now free to explore his new-found interest in intricate rhythms from India while simultaneously performing in jazz gigs with the likes of Buddy Rich's Big Band and other great performers of jazz.
Still, it is his quartet, Vital Information, with whom he stays, plays and records. It is his players, the sum of all parts, to whom he credits the band's success.
As they continue a tour that runs to the end of June, Smith proclaims they are beyond high gear and ready for fans at Blues Alley.
"I want to encourage people to come out, to hear and support live jazz," he said.