“Show Me What You Can Do” is yet another power trio outing from drummer Steve Smith’s Tone Center label. On the heels of the fine trio date which features Larry Coryell and Tom Coster this effort represents a similar offering but the imminent rewards slightly differ.
Australian guitar virtuoso Frank Gambale garnered some well-deserved attention during his stint with Chick Corea’s Elecktric Band. Gambale is an amazing technician who has released instructional videos, solo CD’s and has recently performed with Steve Smith’s Vital Information band. Gambale’s trademark “sweeping” technique and blazing speed is extraordinary. His recent solo outings have been spotty at best although his playing here is awe-inspiring. Stuart Hamm is somewhat of a legendary rock bassist and has aligned himself with rock guitarist Joe Satriani over the years. Steve Smith is perhaps the most versatile drummer on the planet. Together they serve up a highly energetic and thunderous cavalcade of fusion delights.
The first track “Bad Intent” sets the pace. Gambale’s furious attack mesmerizes. Smith and Hamm generate pounding rhythms while Gambale stretches out on his axe in reckless abandon. The proceedings don’t let up, they intensify. Unlike the recent Coryell and Scott Henderson trio recordings for Tone Center, the focus here seems to rely more upon riffs, motifs and perhaps structured jam sessions. Ultimately not as “song” orientated. These guys play with all the bravura and machismo they can muster. The liner notes refer to “manly men playing manly music” It’s all good natured fun; however, the compositions tend to sound similar as the music progresses. “Show Me What Can You Do” as the title may suggest is more of a chops fest than anything else. Three musicians with god given talents running amok in a studio is not for everyone. Students of this genre may disagree although the saving grace is the musician’s craftsmanship. Generally, fusion romps of this ilk come under microscopic scrutiny for exercises in excess. “Show Me What You Can Do” more than likely falls under this category. Otherwise, wait for the neighbors to vacate, turn up the volume and have some fun.