- On March 15th,
Steve returned to New York from a brief "European
Tour" where he shared the various stages with one of his
favorite drummers, the fantastically talented Joel
Rosenblatt and, the recent Grammy Award winning bassist
Charles Flores. The tour saw the
trio playing to excited audiences who had not seen Steve playing in
Europe as a leader in some 11 years. Once completed, the tour had
covered cities in the following countries: Switzerland;
and, the Czech Republic for a final concert on March 14th, in Prague.
As it always is with all the time spent "on the road," there are stories
to tell. And so, here are some of Steve's personal highlights: the
lovely, the comical, the tragic, and the triumphant.
 The 1st concert, which took place
at Culturium in Basel, Switzerland,
went very well!!! The people really seemed to love it, as a new personal
World Record was reached when we played a 2 hr. first set!!!
I don't ever wear a watch when we play, so it was pretty wild to see
what time it was when we had finished that set!!! Oh well, I guess
that I have never been too economical with time, nor notes! Our sincere
thanks go out to Stephan Sieber for making everything run so
Just to show you how crazy one can become,
when viewing life while traveling, in my bathroom, in the Hotel
Metropol, I was looking at, observing, the laying of the bathroom
tile floor. And, I could see that this had not been an easy job to
do, because there was no mathematical way to lay them out perfectly,
according to their size. And so, the worker, who did this particular
job, had to painstakingly lay-in really small pieces of tile, at strange
angles and sizes, to fill-in the space between the last tiles and
the wall. Yes, he could have done this by filling it all in with grout.
But no, he made the effort to make it look artistic and good. So,
what is the point that I am trying to make by virtue of this little
Well, I would simply have to say that this
worker, the tile man, has a great sense of pride in his job!
He is an excellent worker, a craftsman! Before leaving, I actually
brought Joel[who built his own kitchen!!!] into the bathroom to show
him these tiles. We both commented that this kind of care in one's
job would sadly NEVER happen in our fair city of New York!!!
How sad is that? I said
to myself, I would like to meet this guy someday, because he is a
great worker!!! Somewhere, within this little anecdote, is a lesson
for all of us as musicians!!!
And, lest I forget, for breakfast, I had the
best hot chocolate there, ever!!! But, for crying out loud,
it is Switzerland,
there should be great hot chocolate, right?
 However, life on the road, can
really be too much!!! After flying back to Frankfurt, Germany,
and then connecting to a flight to Rome, Italy, with our driver, Massimiliano,
at the wheel, we then began the drive northeast to Trevi. But,
to save an hour on the drive, Massimiliano had decided to take the
"shortcut" through the mountains! And there, we encountered
a HUGE snowstorm while climbing, and climbing, or should I
say, while attempting to climb? And, of course, we got stuck!!!
Aaarrrggghhh!!!! WHY is taking
"the shortcut" always a bad
move, and an eventual disaster?
So, in order to proceed, Massimiliano had
to try to attach some chains to the rear tires of the rented van,
in the DARK!!! This reminds of my packing process. I want you
all to know that I actually thought about including a little mini-Duracell
flashlight, and, an extra pair of gloves! But, being "the perfect
schmuck" that I am, I decided that I wouldn't need them!!! Oy!!!
Our predicament was, at the beginning, a little comical, but soon,
it became a little scary. Joel, in the end, had to help, because he
actually knew better how to afix those damn chains. Amazing!!! By
the time we got moving again, I was totally frozen, and suffering
from a tremendous headache....probably from riding "shotgun" and from
squinting at all the oncoming car lights.....the roads are totally
unlit!!! So, after finally checking-in at the lovely hotel, I just
burried myself in bed, w/ tons of blankets to try to get my poor feet
to warm-up! As usual, no bathtub for me!!! After recounting this tale,
via e-mail, to my dear friend, Guillermo Carrasco, he dubbed
me with yet another nickname: Etiggio!!!
Trevi was just gorgeous in its simple
beauty, and Joel got some great photos of everything, including the
centuries old concert hall, Teatro Clitunno, which was spectacularly
regal, and an honor in which to play. But, is it possible that the
true highlight was having a devilish "Panna Cotta Chocolate"
dessert in the restaurant? That truly ranks, right up there, near
the top. Here, our thanks go out to promoter, Marco Sarti,
whom I hadn't seen since the Weather Update tour in '86.
 The tour also took us to the quaint,
beautiful, and once again,
very snow-covered, little town of Ingolstadt, Germany,
which, during the early '90s had become a frequent stop on my European
tours. After dinner, the 'traditional one' at the Greek restaurant
near the club, while walking back to the gig, from just ahead, Charles
Flores called out to me, and then, suddenly, I heard this huge
rumbling sound, and the next thing I knew, about 20 lbs. of
snow had fallen from the roof directly above me, and had totally
smashed me directly over my head, and body.....including seeing snow
going right down the back of my beloved leather jacket, my sweater,
and my shirt. Damn, that was really cold!!! Of course, everyone who
saw it happen became immediately convulsed in laughter!
 If you are getting the feeling
that I love playing the "little towns," you are correct! It was in
Porto Sant'Elpidio, Italy that I was going to finally
get to see, in person, my dear friend, and long-time promoter, Patrizio
Chiozza and his beloved partner, Gea Marotta. And so, we
all sat down together, alongside our local promoter, Battista Tofoni,
and had a wonderfully festive meal.
 Leading up to the final great highlight
for me was our trek from Italy to Las Palmas, on
the island of Gran Canaria in Spain.
But, as we were to have a layover at the Barcelona airport, we knew
that we would have the time for a feast of "Pulpo a la Gallega."
Wow, compared to the general state of "airport food," this was a treat
beyond belief!!! Wow!!!!
Arriving in Las Palmas, I was greeted by one
of my dear friends, Felipe Díaz, whom I hadn't seen
in some 5 years. It gave our 36 hrs. there a warm and personal feeling.
The concert, on the night of the 12th, proved to be one of best of
the tour, as we played to a packed house, filled with energetic and
enthusiastic fans. But, the joy of these things was made difficult
for me to fully appreciate, as I had to play through the pain of an
attack from my recurring lower back/disc[L-5] problem, which caused
me to be unable to actually 'feel' my left leg for most of the 1st
set. I had the sensation that IF I had stepped down on my left
foot, or had moved that way, I would have actually fallen over. It
was really frightening for me, and something which I had to fight
to try and block out.
The tour finished with a stop in Prague, Czech Republic and a return to the very wild Lucerna Music
Bar. An interesting but, sonically speaking, strange venue because
the stage seems to function as one gigantic sub-woofer, making it
difficult for Joel and I to hear one another. In addition to this,
there is a huge concert hall directly above us, and one can hear the
rock group which was performing, plus the screaming and stomping of
the crowd too!!! We were, of course, loud enough to overcome that!!!
But, the reaction from the people to our music made everything worthwhile.
A special thanks goes out to promoter Michal Hejna for the
having the courage to bring us there.
Through it all, I can only express how very,
very much I appreciated the talents and efforts of both Joel
Rosenblatt and Charles Flores.
It is one thing to play at a consistenly high level, but it is another
thing to also be great traveling companions, musicians who are totally
responsible, and were never once late!!! We would all want to thank
our host and organizer, Patrizio Chiozza, for making this little
'miracle tour' a reality. And, after two weeks on the road, I only
lost one pair of gloves, and left my CD-R case on the floor of Battista
Tofoni's van. And, my 20+ year old leather jacket, holes and all,
survived despite the fervent protests from Charles and Joel. Thanks
so much to all the fans who came out and expressed their appreciation
for the music, I am grateful to each and every one of you. Hoping
to see you all again next year, in '06!!!
- Sometimes an
opportunity appears and, though the demands might be great, the upside
is obviously far, far more beneficial.....especially for one's creative
soul. And so, with the arrival of a fantastic e-mail from the great
drummer, and my longtime friend, Harvey
Mason with an invitation to play two nights in an organ trio
with virtually everyone's favorite contemporary organist, Larry
Goldings, I knew that this was something which I absolutely
could not pass up!
One must consider that Larry has his own wonderful
organ trio with Peter Bernstein(Guitar) and Bill Stewart(Drums).
Then, he's also involved in a "TONY WILLIAMS LIFETIME TRIBUTE"
with John Scofield and Jack DeJohnette. So, what does
he need me for? And so, I accepted Harvey's invitation and took-off
for Los Angeles, and the two-night stand on February
4th & 5th at Studio City's
favorite musician's club, La
Vé Lee to simply enjoy making music with these two
I cannot recall enjoying working with any
keyboard player this much, in a "Live" setting, in many years. As
you all surely know, I have spent the past 25 years exploring various
trios and quartets and always without a keyboard. Larry
Goldings' approach made everything seem so very easy, almost
effortless. One just had to listen, and the space appeared. If not,
the silences were of equal value. Though, in my earliest years in
New York I "served some time" with organist Lonnie Smith, playing
with Larry transported me back to some of my most profound memories
of this treasured genre. Memories of the musical relationships between:
Jimmy Smith & Kenny Burrell[At one point, Harvey led
us into a little bit of "High Heel Sneakers"]; Larry Young
& Grant Green[Yes, we did play "Tyrone"; "Backup" and "Street
of Dreams."]; Mel Rhyne & Wes Montgomery; "Brother"
Jack McDuff & George Benson; and, finally Don Patterson
& Pat Martino!!! How easily it all came back to me. But, it
was easy because Larry Goldings
made it easy! And, of course, years of experience will tell you exactly
what "feels" right, what is the "right thing" to do. You just have
to follow your best instincts.
As we only had time for one rehearsal, which
was held at Harvey's beautiful home, we were not able to incorporate
any of my original tunes into our "book." But, we did perform several
of Larry's terrific tunes, which included: "Moonbird"; "Jim
Jam"; "Asimov"; "Mixed Message"; "Pegasus"
and "Subtle Digs." His tunes provided an insight into a great
musical mind. One where melody, form, and overall musicality exist,
and no questions need to be asked. Larry's compositions seem to play
themselves, because they make such perfect musical sense. And, it
should be noted that, it was all propelled by the relentless fire,
creativity, and positive energy of our leader on these nights, Harvey
Though I would never be so bold as to as to
imagine that this might happen again, I can tell you that I will always
hold dear these two nights of music-making with Larry
Goldings. It was a wonderful experience! Thanks so much
to Harvey for making it all happen. And, thanks so much to all the
fans who came out to see us, and support the music, some coming from
great distances(as far away as San Diego, Australia, and Japan), to
fill the club.
Oops! I almost forgot, just before our first
set was begin, Harvey brought to the stage a "special guest" to introduce
the group. Of course, I had NO idea just who this was going
to be, and, of all people, it turned out to be Lawrence Tanter,
the P.A. voice of the Lakers!!!
For a devout Laker-hater
like me, nothing could have been more absurd, and yet, totally more
L.A. than this!!! And, best of all, when Lawrence turned to introduce
me, he began by saying: "And, on bass..." Need I say more?!?!
With help like this, it's a miracle that we survived!!!