Today I would like to remember the American guitarist Vic Juris who passed away on December 31, 2019 because of complications from metastatic liver cancer. He was diagnosed with liver cancer around six months ago after noticing an exhaustion that plagued him during and after gigs.
Vic was perhaps best known for being a member of the David Liebman group. He worked as a studio musician, educator (he wrote some interesting books on polychords and intervallic structures) and he released several albums as a leader.
Vic was not so well known to the public like John Scofield or Pat Metheny but people who knew him had they highest respect about his musicality, his phrasing and his technique.
I was lucky to met Vic in 2018 where he was the guitar teacher at the Langnau Jazz Workshop which I attended. And yes, I took the chance to play one song with him once in a guitar class. I had some records from him and I was quite excited to met him in person and to be able to attend his class.
The lessons were very entertaining because Vic not only explained his approach to certain improvisation techniques, he also told us a lot of funny stories from his huge musical experience and he deeply impressed us with his playing. He was very generous to all of sharing as much as possible, and his wife Kate had to go every now and then to the copying machine for the additional material he wanted to distribute.
Drummer Adam Nussbaum and bassist Jay Anderson were in Langnau as workshop teachers and Vic Juris released his last two albums with this two great musicians. Vic’s playing his full of creative ideas but you can hear that he plays in “his” style, he has some signature licks and elements from where you can identify him.
The songs on the albums are a combination of own material and Jazz standards so you can also get an idea how he interprets jazz classics.
2018-Album “Eye Contact”:
2019-Album “Two Guitars”:
Much more great music has been released in the last few months. Here is a list of some albums which I can really recommend.
The DIVA Jazz Orchestra – DIVA + the Boys
“DIVA + THE BOYS” is a live recording of The Diva Jazz Orchestra – an ensemble of 15 incredibly talented musicians – who happen to be women – with some of today’s most exciting soloists. The band performed on the MCG Jazz stage in Pittsburgh with Ken Peplowski, Jay Ashby, Claudio Roditi, and MCG Jazz Executive Producer Marty Ashby. Excellent arrangements, a heavy swinging big band and some outstanding clarinet playing are the characteristics of this album.
John Dalton’s Spheres of Influence – Indigo Skyline
Drummer John Dalton presents his trio “Spheres of Influence” featuring Sean Farias on bass and Jim Robitaille on guitar. The album contains original material only and shows a nice and well-balanced trio with enough space and freedom for each musician to express themselves.
DLG 3 – Grease Trap
DLG is a B3 organ trio based out of NYC with John Lynch on guitar, Mike DeConzo on drums and “Organ Monk” Greg Lewis and William Gorman on the Hammond B3 organ. Their album “Grease Trap” was released in the beginning of November and contains funky instrumental interpretations of classic soul & RNB tunes and originals as well. Great choice of songs, very entertaining and very well played.
Roger Kellaway – The Many Open Minds Of Roger Kellaway
Recorded live at the Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles, “The Many Open Minds Of Roger Kellaway” teams the pianist with guitarist Bruce Forman (a superb bebop player and a Sonntag guitar player http://www.sonntag-guitars.com/english/Artists/Bruce-Forman.html) and bassist Dan Lutz. They perform seven familiar jazz standards but their performance is anything but conventional and predictable. Outstanding playing by all three musicians and perfect understanding between each other make great fun and entertainment when listening.
Finally a complete playlist with all songs from the four albums: