In the course of writing The Flute in Jazz: Window on World Music (www.fluteinjazz.com) I had the fortune to meet and interview many prominent artists. In several cases I got to know them quite well. Unfortunately, since then it has been my unfortunate task to write obituaries about several of them, including Herbie Mann, Bud Shank, Sam Most, Buddy Collette, David ‘Fathead’ Newman, Frank Wess and James Moody, as well as the record producer Joel Dorn and a long-term personal friend, Paul Horn.
Jeremy Steig, who passed away April 16th in Yokohama, Japan at the age of 73, falls into a slightly different category. Throughout his career he performed and recorded with some of the finest exponents of pure jazz including Bill Evans, Gary Peacock Paul Bley, Mike Manieri, Eddie Gomez, Jan Hammer, Joe Chambers, Mike Nock, Karl Ratzer, Nana Vasconcelos, Ray Barretto, Steve Gadd, and Jack DeJohnette. Nevertheless, tributes credit Steig primarily with being one of the very first jazz-rock flute players, including his pioneering use of electronics and synthesizers, beginning as early as the 1960s and 1970s.
Steig was certainly a difficult artist to categorise. He toured Europe both as a soloist and heading jazz-oriented quartets and quintets. He had close personal and musical relationships with the legendary jazz bassist Eddie Gomez and as well as with more rock oriented artists such as Tim Hardin and Richie Havens. His song Howlin For Judy is the source of the main sample in the 1994 Beastie Boys‘ single Sure Shot. And his group Jeremy and the Satyrs, from 1967, featuring players such as Eddie Gomez and Mike Mainieri, made a unique contribution to the jazz-rock genre.
As for his personality, I only met him briefly. I went to hear his band, featuring the guitarist Vic Juris, in Greenwich Village while I was working on his section of my book. Unlike just about everyone else I contacted, however, he seemed disinterested in giving me an interview. So I put together an entry on him, shorter than most of the others without a review, and the full text is available as a download if you click Steig-Chapter-Edited
The section includes several record reviews. Steig’s recordings are quite difficult to get hold of but, fortunately, there are quite a few tracks available on YouTube that give good insight into his approach in various settings:
Steig’s site is at www.jeremysteig.info It contains photos, a discography and examples of his art work.
A Jeremy Steig discography can be found at: https://www.discogs.com/artist/122381-Jeremy-Steig
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