With his longstanding group Vital Information, drummer Steve Smith has always been one of the top jazz-rock fusion drummers and bandleaders in the history of the music. With Vitalization, he's hit a new high standard, mixing in ethnic elements, intricate melody lines, and interesting urban funk. Keyboardist Tom Coster's musicality ranks up there with the best players of this genre and his baby boomer generation, while saxophonist Bill Evans proves he's still got all the chops and imagination that made him a sensation in his younger years. With electric bass guitarist Baron Browne, electric guitarist Vinny Valentino, and percussionists Pete Lockett, Gilad, and Juan Carlos Melián, Smith has a more than capable cadre of likeminded performers to create music that has progressed past the primordial electrified fusion style of the 1970s. As heard on "You Know What I Mean," they've upped the ante on the neo-bop to hard dance-funk of the Brecker Brothers. Then there's the solidly swinging tune "The Bottom Line," with Evans on tenor and soprano sax plus Coster's organ; the tribute to Jimmy Smith "Jimmy Jive," a clean and neat, easily swinging soul-jazz shuffle; and the ultimate skunk funk of "The Trouble With." Where Weather Report influenced just about all of these kinds of groups, Smith's band has its own take, combining tropicalia and funk like the famous Jaco Pastorius song "Teen Town" on Valentino's original "J Ben Jazz," while the street strut of Coster's "Groove Time" also sports those values. "Seven and a Half" is parsed in beats of eight and seven, respectively, with a retro feel led by Valentino, and the most involved melody crops up on "Get Serious," with its metropolitan street rock-funk attitude, some shimmering electric piano from Coster, and the deft conga playing of Gilad and Melián. Lockett is the X factor here, a wonderfully diverse player who inspires the band via Eastern and Southern influences to create a new fusion. Two versions of "Interwoven Rhythms" ("Synchronous" and "Dialogue") have Lockett and Smith vocalizing in East Indian konnakol style, an exciting or lower-key scat enhanced by tabla. This is album number 12 for Vital Information, and it's a very good one, as they offer expanded fare beyond the mundane musings of many of their more commercialized brethren.
Performance CreditsVital Information Primary Artist
Tom Coster Accordion,Keyboards,Group Member
Steve Smith Drums,Konnakol,Group Member
Vinny Valentino Guitar,Group Member
Baron Browne Bass,Group Member
Peter Lockett Percussion,Tabla,Kanjira,Konnakol,Shaker
Gilad Percussion,Conga,Caxixi,Djembe,Cajon,Shaker,talking drum
Technical CreditsTom Coster Composer
Steve Smith Composer,Producer
Vinny Valentino Composer,Percussion Engineer
Robert Biles Engineer
Baron Browne Composer
Mark Griffith Liner Notes
Rob Wallis Executive Producer
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Vitalization based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Steve Smith and Vital Information have outdone themselves again! The band keeps getting better and better. This album is going in a new direction for sure. Guitarist Vinny Valentino brings in a fresh and refreshing sound that fits the band perfect. Definately an all-star band producing an all-star cd!