What happens when musical currents collide? Central Virginia is the true musical melting pot where smooth jazz with soul - funky, ethnic and Caribbean is FUSE. Almost any night touring the clubs of Charlottesville you will find live music and bands playing hot jazz, cool jazz, banjo and uke strummers from West Virginia, sultry songsters, Reggae masters, R&B, loads of 'foot stumping' or 'sit back and listen' sounds. FUSE epitomizes this coming together of sounds on the backs of seasoned musicians. The repertoire is composed of cover songs and standards from pop and jazz. The players are all journeymen coming from England west and east coast with experience with nationally known ensembles.
Music that is joyful and will lift you out of your seat. A collection of individuals in love with their music and the thrill of performing live with soul; compositions that will stir you; subtleties and exclamations that contrast and provide the tension that is signature of music you're going to want to hear again and again. The nucleus of Steve Michael Smith and Jim Wray came together almost by accident as performers at the Azurat Festival in Montebello, VA, July 4 2009. After about 6 months of cabaret work as a duo, Smith-Wray morphed into FUSE with the addition of Darrell Rose, Brian Mesko and Peter Matthews. The seminal performance of the full ensemble was at the Mudhouse in Crozet, VA February 19, 2010. This is a fine venue in the backwaters of Charlottesville; the sound was pure: streams of jazz, soul, R&B, Caribbean, reggae, Brazilian, Steely Dan, fuse in FUSE.
FUSE team for the album Light My FUSE:
Steve Michael Smith (guitar/vocals) - experience as a singer, guitarist, and songwriter includes recording and performing with some of the world's most outstanding musicians. He has played guitar with OBO ADDYS, KUKRUDO (an internationally renowned African/jazz ensemble), B.B. COLEMAN, CHARLES NEVILLE of the world famous NEVILLE BROTHERS, MUESTRE ALIMIRO AQUILINO, drummer GRAHAM LEAR, formerly of the band SANTANA and recorded with JOHN SMITH of the pop band, NU SHUZ. Other recordings, he's been featured on include JELLY BEHIND THE SUN with IKE WILLIS, TERRY ROBB, and the WILD INDIANS (a NATIVE AMERICAN MUSIC AWARD WINNER). Formerly with OCEAN 503, a Portland, Oregon-based rhythm and blues band, One of Steve..s more recent tracks ..Truth About Love.. performed with the band Ocean503 is a pop-reggae piece which has a light and breezy feel to it. The song was based on the notion that ..all we are looking for is right before us. Perhaps we should consider the obvious. The premise is simple enough. But what still awaits to be discovered?.. Peace
Jim Wray (piano/trombone) - has led jazz ensembles on piano and on trombone with two European tours and club dates from New York, to Minnesota to Los Angeles spanning traditional, be-bop and cool jazz. His music life was balanced with academic and industry careers in physics and engineering. Now settled in Charlottesville with his shaman wife Deborah , he has teamed with a couple of world class musicians. He can be found doing 2 piano concerts with Hod O'Brien as the 2x88 project and acts as liaison and electronic media creative person for FUSE. His driving horn and keyboard work accent and embellish giving FUSE contrast to the melodic lead of Steve.
Darrell Rose (percussion) - performs as soloist, as accompanist, and as front man for the Afrikan Drum Festival. He plays a wide array of instruments including djembe, sabar, berimbau, nshiko, and talking drum. Having studied with Master Drummers Mor Tiam and Abdou Kunta of Senegal, Babatunde Olatunji of Nigeria and Joseph N'Gwai of Cameroun. Based in Charlottesville since 1990, his musical experience began in New Orleans and Nashville. He has performed with Cyril Neville in New Orleans, with Odetta in England , with Vassar Clements, with Peter Rowan, with the Wailers from 2000 to 2004, with Corey Harris in Guinea and Sierra Leone in 2004 on behalf of the State Department and with Taj Jahal, Randy Weston and Corey Harris at Jazz at Lincoln Center, 2004. Artist in Residence at various Virginia public and private schools since 1991, he was given the Outstanding Educator Award by the Piedmont Council of the Arts in 2003.
Peter Matthews (bass) - a British bassist, guitarist, composer, music educator and journalist. A student of Ron Carter (bassist with the mid-60s Miles Davis Quintet) Peter has toured the US with Japanese percussionist Stomu Yamashta's Red Buddha Theatre and recorded an LP for RCA with his rock band Stars. Stars has toured and performed live on BBC tv. He has lived in the Canary Islands playing with an international salsa group. Currently he makes his home in Lexington VA and is equally at home on the upright or guitar bass. Peter brings a rich stream to FUSE with his academic credentials in Ethnomusicology, his compositions and arranging finesse and his strong command of his instruments coming from a rich international background. Being Brit is cool enough, but no, he's talented to boot.
Brian Mesko (drums) - musically birthed by Nashville where he has worked with the likes of jazz organist Moe Denham, pop/funk artist Sam Brooker, latin/jazz/blues artist Rafael Vasquez, and Greg Bryant's jazz quintet. Through Moe and Greg, he had the honor of playing guitar with jazz legends Les McCann, Tony Monaco and Dr. Lonnie Smith. Having relocated to Staunton VA he brings a versatility and vitality to the craft. Brian is equally at home on drums, guitar or bass.