133

Smith/Goodman/Levy/Burbridge: The Stranger's Hand

David Adler By

Sign in to view read count
Smith/Goodman/Levy/Burbridge: The Stranger's Hand A common shortcoming of today’s chops-oriented fusion is its tendency to playfully mimic every musical style under the sun without ever articulating a coherent, genuine style of its own. Such is the case with this fusion supergroup, of which drummer Steve Smith of Vital Information and Steps Ahead is the leader. He’s joined by violinist Jerry Goodman of early Mahavishnu Orchestra fame, keyboard/harmonica monster Howard Levy of Bela Fleck & The Flecktones, and bassist Oteil Burbridge of Aquarium Rescue Unit and the reconstituted Allman Brothers Band.

We’re dealing with fusion of the virtuosic variety, so the fact that the playing is flawless is unsurprising and somehow beside the point. Burbridge’s bass solos do the most for me, but that’s largely because I grow tired of the sound of heavily electrified violin and harmonica. Funk predominates on "Brick Chicken," "Pinky’s Revenge," and the metrically dizzying "Four Four and More." Levy’s "Moonchild" is one of the more satisfying tracks, with acoustic piano backing a nicely crafted violin melody. Best by far is "Caliente," a samba in 7/8 featuring Levy on the refreshingly low-tech Fender Rhodes.

Beyond that, The Stranger’s Hand is a bore. "Going Up!" is a forgettable foray into straight-ahead swing. Goodman’s "Glimmer of Hope" so closely resembles early Mahavishnu that it practically constitutes a copyright violation. "Elvin" is a predictable tribute to you-know-who, complete with Jones’s trademark slow-boiling 3/4 groove. The title track begins promisingly with interesting sounds from Levy’s pennywhistle and ocarina, but it quickly deteriorates into trite fusion maneuvers. And "Sufferin’ Catfish," a cajun shuffle with moments of jazz waltz thrown in for no apparent reason, is the clearest example of the aimless stylistic patchwork to which I alluded above.

Cyberhome: www.vitalinformation.com


Title: The Stranger's Hand | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Tone Center


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read The Company I Keep CD/LP/Track Review The Company I Keep
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Ma De Re Sha CD/LP/Track Review Ma De Re Sha
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Ask Seek Knock CD/LP/Track Review Ask Seek Knock
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Air and Light and Time and Space CD/LP/Track Review Air and Light and Time and Space
by John Eyles
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Eleven Cages CD/LP/Track Review Eleven Cages
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 27, 2017
Read Afro-Caribbean Mixtape CD/LP/Track Review Afro-Caribbean Mixtape
by Mark F. Turner
Published: June 27, 2017
Read "The Pauper And The Magician" CD/LP/Track Review The Pauper And The Magician
by Ian Patterson
Published: January 17, 2017
Read "Jailhouse Doc With Holes In Her Socks" CD/LP/Track Review Jailhouse Doc With Holes In Her Socks
by Jerome Wilson
Published: September 24, 2016
Read "Streams" CD/LP/Track Review Streams
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 17, 2016
Read "Shock Axis" CD/LP/Track Review Shock Axis
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 21, 2016
Read "The Evolution Suite" CD/LP/Track Review The Evolution Suite
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 4, 2016
Read "Scratches Of Spain" CD/LP/Track Review Scratches Of Spain
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 9, 2017

Smart Advertising!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.