The group Steps Ahead came together in 1979, but their debut album did not arrive until 1983. By that time, Steps had created a potent form of fusion. WBGO recorded an early version of the band in the summer of 1982, during the now-defunct Kool Jazz Festival. Vibraphonist Mike Maineri (photographed above) was the leader, and the lineup included some heavy hitters - drummer Peter Erskine, bassist Eddie Gomez, pianist Don Grolnick, and saxophonist Michael Brecker. Brecker was already a star, even though he had not yet recorded a solo effort (and would not for nearly five more years...strange but true...). Steps Ahead became a group that people in and out of jazz noticed, and a lot of young talent got an early lift from being in the band
(pianist Eliane Elias comes to mind).
Check out Steps Ahead playing "Islands," from the WBGO Archives.
I rarely work the morning shift around here. 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. newscasts are Doug Doyle territory and for good reason. It takes a special man to get up at 3:30 a.m. and get here in time to deliver the news at 6 a.m., sharp. Frankly, I ain't that special, man. Those of you who've heard me at that time in the morning, know what I'm talking about.Still, when Doug's out, I get the call. One recent morning, however, I was sitting at my desk, staring blankly at my computer monitor, the written word failing me, when all of a sudden, dripping from the speakers behind me, like honey on a nubile neck, comes Eliane Elias singing Jobim's "Photograph (Fotografia)."
The vocal, so lush and silken, insinuated itself into my soft gray matter and swirled around like the café in my café con leche. I closed my eyes and drank deeply, Eliane inside my brain. MMM. It's just about the only thing that went right that morning.
Eliane Elias is just smooth, man, (as both a singer and a pianist) so if you get a chance, I urge you to join us (yes, I'll be there) tomorrow at J&R Music's Park Row store (23 Park Row, NYC, Second Floor) for a FREE live performance and broadcast of some of the material from her new release "Something For You: Eliane Elias Sings and Plays Bill Evans."
The performance starts at 4 p.m. and, even if you're in Rio, Brasil, you can hear it live. - David Cruz
This is the most painful part of being a team player. The monthly "all-staff meeting." Most of us are chomping at the bit to get back to the tons of work we have to do but acknowledge that it's important for the right hand to know what the left hand is doing. There's useful information exchanged here, for the most part. Upcoming stuff includes our broadcasts of Rhonda Hamilton's Midday Jazz Show from the International Association for Jazz Education in Toronto (Jan. 9-12) and Eliane Elias plays the music of Bill Evans live from J&R Music, Park Row, on January 19. Our winter fund drive is scheduled to begin January 30.
Other stuff upcoming: Our next Newark Today broadcast will feature a return visit from Police Director Garry McCarthy. That's on January 10, 8 p.m. A call-in show with Newark's departing schools superintendent, January 31, 8 p.m. This'll be a rare opportunity to hear from (and to talk to) Marion Bolden, a 40-year veteran of the Newark public school system. There was more stuff happening but I was posting these blog comments and I missed it, so ... David Cruz