Steen Vig - Blue Boat
Cat. no: 1018478
Release Date: 16th April 2021
“The Jazzpar Prize was initiated by the Danish Jazz Center in 1990. In 2005 it was terminated when the sole sponsor, The Scandinavian Tobacco Group, withdrew funding. Attempts to find new sponsorship were unsuccessful.
Back then, musicians spoke unofficially of the “big” and the “small” Jazzpar. The “big” Jazzpar being a statuette and a cash award of DKr. 200.000, given to a musician of international acclaim, while the “small” Jazzpar was given to two Danish artists and consisted of appearances on the Jazzpar concert tour with the opportunity of inviting one or two international musicians of the recipients’ own choice followed up by a recording.
In 1993 the Jazzpar Prize went to the fine American pianist Tommy Flanagan. The two bandleaders were Steen Vig and Kim Kristensen & Ildv verne. “Blue Boat” is the recording of Steen’s Jazzpar band: “Steen Vig and his Bluesicians” featuring Gene “Mighty Flea” Connors and Cornell Dupree. Unfortunately, Steen didn’t live to see the album released. He died of a heart attack in his home on January 1., 1994.
He was 49. I first heard Steen in the 1970’s. He was a longterm member of Fessor’s Big City Band, but most Mondays he played at the Copenhagen jazz club Vognporten with the Steen Vig Swingsters. Their eclectic mixture of blues, traditional jazz, swing, funky New Orleans, Beatles tunes - you name it - drew huge crowds. The band was great, but what we really came for were Steen’s saxophones.
His Bechet-inspired soprano was touching and powerful, and the growling sound of his tenor was huge, warm and swinging. Sometimes when he felt the need to shift to an even higher gear, he would play both at the same time. The evening’s highlight was always his version of Summertime on the soprano. That’s what we were waiting for. His solo evolved from Monday to Monday, growing in all directions in an expressionistic attempt to top last week’s performance - until the tune ultimately went on for close to half a set egged on by the ecstatic audience. In the mid-80’s I was hosting an open stage night at a Copenhagen club.
I had gone solo a few months previously, and Steen had recently left Fessor’s Big City Band after 17 years. He showed up, and we ended up playing the whole evening ourselves. We continued doing so for the next ten years. His powerhouse solos weren’t always easy to back with one guitar, but it was worth the effort. Steen had sax heroes in many styles - Bechet, Webster, Rollins, Hawkins, Eddie Lockjaw Davis, Arnett Cobb, Parker... He was an accomplished pianist and played folk tunes on the accordion.
He was one of those musicians who gave everything he had in him each time he performed, and if necessary, he would find an extra ten percent deep down in some recess of hidden resources. He was also one of the funniest men I’ve ever met. (Listen to this album’s closing track with the Dadaistic title Hotel Bl kregning - roughly translated from Danish: Hotel Arithmetic Homework). Steen was one of those musicians you wanted to hear on stage for the full experience. But this recording is a fine substitute. Backed by a group of some his favorite Danish musicians and augmented with Gene Mighty Flea Connors on trombone (and vocal) and Cornell Dupree on guitar, this album will give you a taste of why those packed evenings in Vognporten were so special.”
Tracks: Blue Boat / Memphis Blues / Soul Country / The Flea is Jumping / Blue turning Grey Over Y / Taps Miller / We Sure Do Need Him Now / Tee / Kansas City Man Blues / Copnehagen Hip Hop / Foo Foo Blues / Hotel Blaekregning