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Jeff “Siege” Siegel

by Jeff Nania on September 27, 2012



The abstract world of spontaneous sound created by drummer Jeff “Siege” Siegel and Finnish saxophonist Esa Pietila is not for the faint of heart. These two go anywhere and everywhere, and they do so with absolute conviction. This is not a halfhearted experiment in free jazz—this is free jazz.

The two kindred spirits met in 2009 at an IASJ (International Association of Schools of Jazz) convention in Lucerne, Switzerland. During the conference they were able to hear each other play but didn’t get a chance to play together. That chance came in May 2012 when they went on a European tour as a duo, hitting cities such as Wien and Kleigenfurt, Austria, and Aachen and Bergnaustadt, Germany. The record came shortly afterward when Esa came to the U.S. with his own quartet, and he and Siegel were able to get together at NRS Studios in the Catskills.

Some of the compositions are more spontaneous than others, but they are all more spontaneous than any “straight-ahead” record you might come across. Pietila and Siegel both brought in a number of short melodic concepts (some of which made it on the record) but they also just discussed ideas, or things that they would like to portray.

Pietila suggested they play about oceans, and the track “Waves” was born. Siegel’s snare rolls like the waves as Pietila plays a regal intro with a strong, centered tone. As the track gets going, we feel the pulsing ups and downs of Siegel’s flow between the drums and cymbals, and we can also hear the spray of the ocean water. The titles of the tracks were often arrived upon after listening back to the recordings.

Siegel says, “We also did one piece, ‘Power Orbit,’ that was just hitting it basically. We felt like we needed an energy piece and that was about the only inspiration!”

The duo have their sights set on an even more extensive tour next year. If you have an open mind, stay tuned.