Fusion and Rock superheroes, guitarist Frank Gambale, bassist Stuart Hamm and drummer Steve Smith reunite for their second “Tone Center” release, titled - The Light Beyond
. Throughout, the musicians meld strong, memorable compositions with aggressive soloing and cagey dialogue. On the opener “Katahdin”, Gambale utilizes his impressive and well documented – sweeping technique – intermingled with thoughtful lines, legato and suspenseful themes while Hamm and Smith hammer out the rhythms with effortless control amid vivacious interplay. The composition, “Yang” might ring of the Allan Holdsworth School as the band insinuates melodic development yet maintains a calm sense of urgency. Stuart Hamm takes the lead on “Nostalgia” as he pursues smooth balladry with intriguingly melodic lines along with Gambale’s jazz-based chord progressions. With “Lumpy’s Lament”, the band gets back into the red zone as they whirl through some remarkably difficult unison runs and tasty blues-rock motifs. Here, Gambale is ablaze atop Hamm’s pumping, deftly executed bass lines and Smith’s polyrhythmic yet silky smooth drumming. Basically, the trio displays quite a bit of diversity on this new release which continues on Frank Gambale’s brief, yet airy solo guitar interlude titled “Isle Of Few”, as the recording closes with the electrified dreamscape “Fugitive Aspirations.
The Light Beyond represents much more than just three master technicians coalescing for a glorified jam session! All in all, this is well-produced effort that is only adorned by the stinging ensemble work, enticing compositions and radiant soloing! Recommended.
* * * * (out of * * * * *)
Track listing: 1) Katahdin 2) Yang 3) First Look 4) The Throne Of Savitar 5) Nostalgia 6) Yin 7) Yang 8) Lumpy