Founded by all-world drummer Steve Smith back in the 80’s, Vital Information celebrates its tenth recording with a slightly organic vibe as these superb musicians delve into a variety of formats. The keyword here is groove, as these stylists (and frequent poll winners) align their wares for a group sound that has become easily identifiable! On this deceptively complex yet thoroughly entertaining affair, Smith sets the pace via his polyrhythmic outbreak on the opener, “Cranial #1" (an ongoing series of spontaneous improvisations). However, the band subsequently ventures into the stratosphere with streamlined exactitude during the hotly swinging number “Mr. T.C.” Smith opts for a scaled down jazz kit, while perennial guitar hero Frank Gambale employs a hollow-body electric. On “Shagadelic Boogaloo,” the quartet engages in a 70’s pop-soul mode, along with a few inadvertent nods to the Chitlin Circuit. Keyboardist Tom Coster picks up the accordion for the New Orleans style shuffle motif titled “Our Man In Louisiana.” With this piece, you can almost see a hot and humid summer day, way down yonder in Nawlins, complete with the aroma of spiced up crawfish permeating the streets of the French Quarter.
on “Sideways Blues,” Gambale’s now infamous sweeping chord progressions and Coster’s fluent B-3 lines ride above Smith and bassist Baron Browne’s steaming, turbocharged swing vamps. The ensemble’s multifaceted voyage continues throughout the intermittent “Cranial” sequences, where they propagate smatterings of EFX atop pulsating cadenzas. No doubt, you’ll get your money's worth here! Recommended. Vital Information
Track Listing: 1.Cranial #1 Right Now 2.Mr. T.C. 3.Shagedlic Boogaloo 4.Cranial # 2 The
Jinx 5.Soul Principle 6.Our Man In Louisiana 7.Cat and Mouse 8.Cranial #
3 Azul 9.Sideways Blues 10.the Blackhawk 11.Cranial # 4 Where We Live
12.The Fire Still Burns (for Jimi) 13.Cranial # 5 Awaken The hoodoo
14.Cranial # 6 Mata Hari 15.Gingerbread Boy 16.Cranial # 7 Brake Failure
Personnel: Tom Coster: Hammond B-3, Fender Rhodes, Korg Trinity and accordion -
Baron Browne: bass - Steve Smith: drums - Frank Gambale: guitar
I love jazz because it is both challenging and exhilarating, and the endeavor of improvisation is the highest form of art.
I met so many great musicians--including my two earliest heroes, Maynard Ferguson and Dizzy Gillespie--by attending concerts
and being willing to treat them with the respect they deserve.
The best show I ever attended was the Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman Song X concert at Cornell University.
The first jazz record I bought was an RCA compilation by Dizzy Gillespie.
My advice to new listeners is to not be afraid to listen to something because you're not familiar with the artists or the band or
the genre or anything - this is music that is best experienced through discovery.