I downloaded a couple of concerts from Gambale's tours round about this period, with joel taylor on drums. About half the material was on these downloads that appear here but different concerts(available at frank gambale.com). This is an excellent gig and well recorded, this trio spark off each other really well and are definitely inside the songs so are confident to stretch out with them. I am not keen on Gambale's smoother jazz efforts, but this is definitely not one of them. High order improv is the order of the day here. Highly recommended
To me, this is pure jazz/rock fusion. Played to perfection in a live venue, these compositions (and improvisations) shine in the hands of these three virtuosos. And for a live setting, the production is great!
Donati's drums, in particular, are mic'd perfectly. In fact, as you listen to this, it seems to be as much a drum showcase album as anything else. He's a fantastic rock drummer (probably in the top 5?) who possesses natural jazz sensibilities, which is a huge advantage for this style of music. Fierabracci is a fine bass player - his deep growling tapping has this bordering on jazz metal at times...but he never quite hops that fence (thankfully!). He really shows off his stuff on a fancy solo on the last track.
This is a trio, so there's a nice open feel to the music and a nice balance between all three musicians. When you're as talented on guitar as Frank Gambale, it's a real tribute to him that he doesn't try to steal the show from the other two band members here. Gambale is a singular talent, and I love his work on the Gambale-Hamm-Smith albums. This is just a further step into a harder edged style for him. He'll always have his detractors for whatever reason, and that's fine with them; I'm confused as to why some critics feel compelled to take foolhardy digs at his overall talents or his performance on this particular cd, or even suggest that another guitarist could have improved this album? That irks me.
This is a worthy cd folks, any way you cut it. It's actually one of the highest rated cd's I've reviewed here. Highly recommended.
I value interesting music that is played and recorded well. This cd's rating was based on: Music quality = 9.3/10; Performance = 9.4/10; Production = 9/10; CD length = 10/10. Overall score weighted on my proprietary scale = 9.4 ("5 stars")
These guys are some of the greatest musicians on the planet and here they give us a live set of tunes that display their chops! I have been following these musicians for years and always get anything they are involved with but I would not recommend starting here. Try their studio efforts first with bands live OTV, Planet X, and any of their solo CD's to get an understanding of their varied styles and technical sensibilities. Then you might like to get this and hear how they pull it off in the live setting. Great album for true fans of this genre of music (rock/jazz/fusion) and certainly for fans of these gifted musicians.
I wanted to like this CD, I really did. I have never been a Frank Gambale fan ... after first hearing him play lame pop-jazz guitar fills for the soft-fusion GRP poster boys Chick Corea Elektric Band. Unlike his predescessor Scott Henderson, who left the constrictive Chick Corea fold to be far more adventurous and creative with the likes of Tribal Tech and Vital Tech Tones, Gambale has languished with simple (albeit LOUD) never-far-from-pure-tone speed runs and Eric-Johnson-esque three-chord stadium anthems. I'm not a guitar player, so even though his "pick-sweeping" may technically be the greatest thing to be exported from south of the equator, it is still just a lot of "playing loud and saying nothing."
But when I saw Gambale had teamed up with Virgil Donati (of Planet X, etc,) and Ric Fierabracci -- two musicians responsible for some of the greatest instrumental progressive music on record (seek out Donati's blistering trio date "Just Add Water" with Henderson and Fierabracci) -- I gave him the benefit of the doubt. I should have trusted my doubt; true to form, Gambale sounds like Herb Ellis or Les Paul in front of a stack of Marshalls, meandering aimlessly, never venturing far from jazz-rock convention. While Henderson or Allan Holdsworth or Brett Garsed would have launched this band straight to brink of exteneded, improvisitory, out-there-ness, Gambale is reigned in by his GRP label roots. Too bad, Donati and Fireabracci aspire to much better.
Ironically, it is the encore -- an otherwise straight ahead jazz number with a walking bass line -- in which Gambale gets a little unconventional, daring ... and interesting. But it is too little, too late.