Although the band has opted for the familiar format of piano, bass and drums, Steiger refuses categorically to let itself be shackled by tradition. Thanks to sparkling compositions that are both embedded in that tradition and completely outside of it, they enrich the ‘genre’. It is especially their personal line of approach – in which (often analogue) electronica is not shied away from and the piano is easily swapped for an electronic keyboard – that gives the trio a unique colour.
The following video was recorded during the Belgian Jazz Meeting in Brussels in September 2017. The group had just released its first CD, but even the tracks from that CD are often given a fresh interpretation when played live – a demonstration of the band’s daring but also of their desire to always take it one step further.
The compositions are quite varied: at times a dense minimalist foundation is laid on which music is stacked up in layers, while at other times the pieces start out from a rather delicate acoustic improvisation in which each instrument seeks its place before culminating in an intense sound cluster. Tension is built up gradually in Steiger. They improvise freely and intensely. Gilles Vandecaveye likes to abandon the piano and throw himself on the mixing console while Kobe Boon’s bass sings in the upper regions and the drums are interspersed around both, until it all comes together in a solid groove and the music slowly starts swinging.
In this way, compact movements are injected with air, so that the audience can get a breather before being grabbed again by the scruff of the neck. It is that variety of playing styles and the emotions attached to them that make Steiger an original band. In the final chord of the concert, the trio shows that they are also experts at rhythmic variations. It appears to be a constant in their playing. The tempos dance throughout the concert, Simon Raman sitting behind his kit like a magician and subtly changing the cadence.
Steiger’s approach within the format of the piano trio is not as much a deviation from, or attack on, its rich tradition, as it as an exploration of its potential. They are true musicians of the 21st century, not intimidated by genre boundaries or the unknown. With their new project #locations the band members immersed themselves in the concept of ‘space’. The act of creation becomes a dialogue, with each particular space functioning as a fourth band member. To turn the project into a special experience for the audience as well, the entire trajectory was filmed and footage of each location is used during live performances. The process resulted in their new album, entitled Give Space (SDBAN Records, September 2018).
Foto: (c) Maarten Geukens