Steve Smith and Vital Information NYC Edition to perform Sunday in Scranton
While Steve Smith might be best known for his work with rock band Journey, his jazz roots are what’s bringing him to the area this weekend.
The PA Jazz Alliance will host Steve Smith and Vital Information NYC Edition for a 7 p.m. concert Sunday at the Radisson Lackawanna Station Hotel in Scranton.
“It’s always a pleasure to play (in Scranton),” Smith said.
Marko Marcinko, founder of the Jazz Alliance, said he and Smith have had a “long friendship,” and he tries to bring Smith in for a concert as often as possible.
“It’s always a great show,” Marcinko said.
Smith said he enjoys the audiences at the jazz concerts, and said the area has an appreciation and “high regard” for jazz music.
“There are a lot of good musicians in the area,” he said.
Smith, who trained in “straight jazz,” said Vital Information NYC Edition has expanded their sound to encompass more modern styles, including funk and even the traditional South Indian Carnatic style rhythmic music.
The Carnatic style, which originated as a divine form of art connected to Hindu gods and goddesses, involves a percussive use of vocal technique matched with rhythmic drumming. The technique also utilizes a lot of improvisation, and Smith said his education in that style of music helped the group develop a different approach to the genre.
“It gives us a unique sound,” he said.
Steve Smith and Vital Information NYC Edition released a new album, “Heart of the City,” earlier this year, which is comprised of 12 original songs and features Smith, Baron Browne (bass and vocals), Mark Soskin (piano and Rhodes piano), Vinny Valentino (guitar), Andy Fusco (alto sax) and George Brooks (tenor and alto saxes).
Throughout the album, Browne’s vocals and Smith’s drumming work hand in hand to fuse the Carnatic percussion with the more modern funk sound the rest of the ensemble brings to the table.
“It helps us develop more creativity in the music,” Smith said.
While this isn’t the first gig the group has played in Scranton, Smith said each audience can anticipate a completely different sonic performance and that the group feeds off the energy from the crowd.
“There is a fresh approach each night,” he said. “Each night the audience will have a unique experience.”
Smith started studying drums at age 9, and furthered his education at Boston’s Berklee College of Music under teachers such as Gary Chaffee and Alan Dawson.
From there, he went on to play with a variety of musicians, and eventually joined Journey in the late ‘70s. Earlier this year, Journey was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Reach Brigid Edmunds at 570-991-6113 or on Twitter @brigidedmunds.
IF YOU GO
What: Steve Smith and Vital Information NYC Edition
When: 7 p.m. Sunday
Where: Radisson Lackawanna Station Hotel in Scranton
Additional Information: Tickets are $25 general, $35 gold seating, $10 student. There will be a cash bar and selected menu. For tickets, call the box office at 570-909-9216 or email [email protected]