Without much fanfare, guitarist Vic Juris has been accumulating an impressive body of recorded work over the past nine years for SteepleChase that showcases his flowing, warm-toned, bop-inflected lyricism and his penchant for unbridled swinging. Following a string of urgent postboppish releases during the ’70s for Muse—(Roadsong, Horizon Drive and Bleecker Street), Juris laid out as a leader during the ’80s, but he returned to action in 1994 with his SteepleChase debut, Night Tripper. A recent flurry of activity for SteepleChase—an intimate and highly interactive duo project with pianist Marc Copland called Double Play; a key sideman role on bassist Steve LaSpina’s The Bounce; his own Songbook 2 standards project with bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Jeff Hirshfield, as well as an upcoming guitar summit with labelmates Dave Stryker and Tony Purrone—promises to keep Juris’ profile high among six-string connoisseurs.
A native of Jersey City, N.J., Juris took up guitar at age 10 during the summer of 1963. Accordion, he notes, was a far more popular instrument than guitar at that time. All that would change the following year when Beatlemania washed up on the Jersey shore. Juris got his first electric guitar on Christmas of 1964, and by the mid-’60s he was playing cover versions of Jimi Hendrix, Cream and the Temptations material in rock and R&B bands around his area. He discovered jazz in his late teens and subsequently studied with Philly jazz guitar legend Pat Martino.