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Gambale/Hamm/Smith: GHS 3 (2003)

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Gambale/Hamm/Smith: GHS 3 No stars How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Fusion’s hottest current power trio returns with a third offering on Tone Center. All the elements of outstanding modern fusion are present on GHS3 — powerful guitar leads, pounding and complex basslines, intricate driving rhythms — with few of the clichés that characterize lesser organizations. With only a few hitches in the mix this time, Gambale, Hamm and Smith continue to show the world how it’s done.

The trio immediately grabs our attention with Gambale’s first speedy fusillade of notes, followed by Hamm’s happenin’ double-stopped grooving. “All In Your Head” is typical of the guitarist’s compositions, with rolling sequences of catchy, straightforward melodic lines. And, as we would expect, Gambale solos with blistering intensity throughout the disc. The band plays bait and switch with time signatures on “Confuse-A-Blues,” a feature for Gambale’s almost percussive acoustic guitar. Hamm takes the lead on “The Great Roberto” and his meditative, overdubbed showcase, “November,” and intertwines himself blissfully with Gambale on most other tracks. Smith steps up to the spotlight on “Culture Clash,” dubbing hand drums and percussion over the traps in rhythms inspired by Indian musician Sandip Burman. The chameleonic drummer is in high polish on this date, pushing his bandmates along with tight polyrhythms on “Roberto” and sticking mostly to basic rock forms on “Geo 100”.

The only real quibble with this outing is the slightly heavy treble emphasis in the mix, which amplifies fret buzz on some of Hamm’s basses and makes Gambale’s acoustic guitar somewhat clattery on the closer. That technical glitch aside, GHS 3 is another worthy addition to the Tone Center stable and a pleasing purchase for fans who like melodic excellence on top of technical prowess.

Track Listing: All In Your Head; The Great Roberto; Confuse-A-Blues; Saving Grace; Culture Clash; Geo 100; November; The Challenger.

Personnel: Frank Gambale, guitars; Stuart Hamm, basses; Steve Smith, drums and percussion.

Record Label: Tone Center

Style: Fusion/Progressive Rock


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