133

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

David Adler By

Sign in to view read count
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

| Record Label: Tone Center | Style: Fusion/Progressive Rock


Shop

More Articles

Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Before The Silence CD/LP/Track Review Before The Silence
by John Sharpe
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1 CD/LP/Track Review Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by Mark F. Turner
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Process And Reality CD/LP/Track Review Process And Reality
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 24, 2017
Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "Ubuntu" CD/LP/Track Review Ubuntu
by James Nadal
Published: September 8, 2016
Read "Rough Enough" CD/LP/Track Review Rough Enough
by Nicola Negri
Published: August 7, 2016
Read "My Foolish Heart" CD/LP/Track Review My Foolish Heart
by Henning Bolte
Published: February 3, 2017
Read "Natural Perception" CD/LP/Track Review Natural Perception
by Edward Blanco
Published: September 5, 2016
Read "Time Never Pauses" CD/LP/Track Review Time Never Pauses
by Budd Kopman
Published: April 10, 2016
Read "X-Ray Search Light Project: Djuke Music" CD/LP/Track Review X-Ray Search Light Project: Djuke Music
by Dave Wayne
Published: May 19, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

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!

Buy it!