Eleven original compositions give Vital Information's jazz/rock session plenty of room to ooze. This is their 11th album. By now, they've come to an agreement on what kind of a sound they want. A light Hammond organ, searing electric guitar and thumping electric bass are driven by a heavy rock beat; the band surges with colors that swirl up and down. Their performance is all about technique. Frank Gambale displays his mighty chops, often in unison with a partner. Bass and drums keep things under control, making sure that their overlapping beats leave space for melody. Tom Coster colors with smooth harmony throughout, leaving much of the session tied to smooth jazz.
Gambale's "A Little Something" gives the listener plenty of space. Mellow and succinct, the piece ties pleasant moods together with wallpaper surroundings. His "From Naples to Heaven" introduces the accordion. Slow and melodic, the piece earns a rustic atmosphere in a laid-back setting. With brushes, Steve Smith wraps its aura gently around the fencepost. The band makes this one fit those lazy, hazy days of summer.
"Baton Rouge" employs accordion as well. With this display, however, Vital Information gives us a taste of Cajun hospitality. "Around the World" also delivers a Deep South souvenir, with its New Orleans shuffle beat and head-bobbing funk groove. The band's "Fine Line" carries an exotic message: fusion has drawn elements from cultures around the world. Smith's udu drum and Coster's accordion ensure that we're able to recognize the various scents.
Ending their performance with a fast-charging "High Wire," the band reminds us of its roots and of how much of an impression jazz fusion made when it first came out in the 1970s.
Track Listing: Time Tunnel; Come On In; Beneath the Surface; Cat Walk; Around the World; Soho; A LIttle Something; From Naples to Heaven; Baton Rouge; Fine Line; High Wire
Personnel: Steve Smith (drums, udu), Frank Gambale (guitar), Tom Coster (keyboards, accordion), Baron Browne (bass)
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith. We hung out at my Aunt Kate's Soul Food restaurant in Harlem after the matinees at the Apollo where I listened to their stories. I knew I wanted to be a jazz musician from then on. My mother wanted me to play piano, but my Aunt bought me a guitar. I've been playing ever since.
At my mother's early prompting, I first sang Blue Velvet at my Catholic elementary school...and all the nuns came running in and asked me to sing again, so I knew I must have sounded pretty good. I've been singing ever since.
I met Tony Bennett in Miami and he inspired me to return to New York. He was a great mentor.
The best show I ever attended is mpossible to say, I've seen so many great shows. From Tony Bennett to Pat Martino, Return to Forever to Weather Report...I've seen some great performances.
My advice to new listeners is don't let jazz intimidate you, the music has something for every listener and it is our American gift to the world.