Thursday, November 28, 2013

Jeremy Steig Flute Fever Columbia 1963


The Holy Grail for jazz flute, from lost classic to reissued masterpiece!
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
 
 
Jazz flute is largely overlooked and most often only "tolerated" in certain circles while in other circles it has been quietly eating at the kids table of Latin jazz for years. The penultimate breakthrough for jazz flute happened fifty years ago with the classic Flute Fever. Joining premier flutist Jeremy Steig we have all star pianist Denny Zeitlin along with the great Ben Riley on drums and Ben Tucker on bass.
 
Musicologists can argue that Hubert Laws may be the greatest straight ahead flute player of our time, they probably forgot about this release. Were it not for Jeremy Steig and the methodical way in which he attacks his instrument then Laws along with Dave Valentin and a host of others would have little to go on in terms of inspirational performances. To keep it simple, if Sonny Rollins played flute as his main weapon of choice then the Steig sound would be right in his wheelhouse.
 
Speaking of Sonny Rollins, "Oleo" opens this stellar recording that has been masterfully remastered and losing nothing in translation. Other gems include "What Is This Thing Called Love" along with "Well, You Needn't" and "Lover Man." A debut recording for both Steig and pianist Zeitlin that for now had been something more of an underground phenomenon. More delightful back story here includes the producer who happens to be the legendary John Hamond whose ear for talent also brought us Stevie Ray Vaughn and Bruce Springsteen.
 
This is not jazz flute for wimps, there is nothing "pretty" going on here unless the improvisational magic generated from the whirling dervish that is Jeremy Steig is what gets your motor running. The complete sonic spectrum is explored by a true pioneer of all things possible with what may well be the Rodney Dangerfield of instruments in modern jazz. The influence of Steig on players today including Canadian master Bill McBirnie is evident. The trio that completes the ensemble are far more than after thoughts but one of the finest examples of harmonious synergy brought to a studio and transferred to tape.
 
A stunning recording and a pristine reissue!
 

 
Tracks: Oleo; Lover Man; What Is This Thing Called Love?; So What; Well, You Needn't; Willow Weep For Me; Blue Seven; What Is This Thing Called Love (Take 1).