Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

4

Steve Smith and Vital Information: Live! One Great Night

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
Drummer Steve Smith means different things to different people. Arena rockers will always think of Smith as the rhythmic force that drove Journey's hits, while straight ahead jazz fans appreciate him as a keeper-of-the-flame, honoring the great drummers of the past through his work with his own Jazz Legacy group. Others rightly view him as a clinician and educator par excellence, sharing his extensive knowledge in person or through his educational DVDs, and yet another segment of people see him as a studio ace who takes care of business for artists looking to house their music in an original sounding undercarriage.

While the many faces of Steve Smith have allowed him to be all of this and more, his most consistent artistic persona has been that of fusion pusher. Smith has been espousing the virtues of fusion with Vital Information for three decades and, while the personnel has changed over the years, the overarching esthetic remains the same.

The edition of Vital Information featured on Live! One Great Night, takes the original, chops-heavy, rock-jazz-funk fusion template of yesteryear and builds on it, adding Indian structures into the architecture of the music. Smith's post-millennial fascination with South Indian vocal percussion—a.k.a. konnakol—seeps into the mix here, but it doesn't change the basic sound of the group; it simply adds another flavor to the stew. This ideal proves to be most intriguing on "Interwoven Rhythms-Synchronous," which comes off like wordless Indo-rap over a funky foundation.

All of the standard Vital Information trademarks and more come into focus at different times. Odd meters ("Seven And A Half"), slick and funky grooves ("Cat Walk"), classic organ jazz allusions ("Jimmy Jive"), metric sleight of hand, time twisting antics, mind blowing drum solos and fast-fingered displays of technique from the strings and keys are all part of the package. While the band's reputation as a high energy outfit remains intact during this program, they're more than capable of finding success when they dial things down. The bonus DVD includes a gorgeous number with Mediterranean underpinnings ("Positano"), courtesy of Tom Coster's accordion and Vinny Valentino's clean-toned guitar work, that proves this point.

The majority of the material featured here comes from Come On In (Tone Center, 2004) and Vitalization (Hudson/Mascot Records, 2007), so it was fresh in the minds of these four men when they dropped in at The Mobius—a now-defunct club in Ashland Oregon—in the fall of 2007. They were near the tail end of a world tour, so they were operating as a well-oiled machine, and that comes through loud and clear on this live recording from one of the last great fusion bands standing.

Track Listing: Cat Walk; Time Tunnel; Interwoven Rhythms-Synchronous; Seven And A Half; Khanda West; The Trouble With; Interwoven Rhythms-Dialogue; The Closer; Jimmy Jive.

Personnel: Steve Smith: drums, konnakol; Vinny Valentino: guitar, vocals, konnakol; Baron Browne: bass; Tom Coster: keyboards.

Title: Live! One Great Night | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: BFM Jazz


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns CD/LP/Track Review Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Song of No Regrets CD/LP/Track Review Song of No Regrets
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Sounding Tears CD/LP/Track Review Sounding Tears
by John Sharpe
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Lighthouse CD/LP/Track Review Lighthouse
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Kill The Boy CD/LP/Track Review Kill The Boy
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Rain or Shine CD/LP/Track Review Rain or Shine
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 15, 2017
Read "Little Steps" CD/LP/Track Review Little Steps
by Troy Dostert
Published: May 20, 2017
Read "Triloka: Music for Strings and Soloists" CD/LP/Track Review Triloka: Music for Strings and Soloists
by Marithe Van der Aa
Published: May 7, 2017
Read "The Unknown" CD/LP/Track Review The Unknown
by Budd Kopman
Published: December 31, 2016
Read "The Imperfect Sea" CD/LP/Track Review The Imperfect Sea
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 4, 2017
Read "Matador 4" CD/LP/Track Review Matador 4
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: December 31, 2016
Read "Outside The Comfort Zone" CD/LP/Track Review Outside The Comfort Zone
by Roger Farbey
Published: July 24, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!