Drummer Steve Smith'
s career as a premier jazz-rock fusion drummer has offered him the opportunity to play with a wide variety of musicians, whether leading his own band Vital Information
, working with the co-op GHS trio, or any number of legitimate big-name stars. This collection represents work from 1998 up to 2005, showcasing his powerhouse style, and teaming him with many different artists of varying approaches in amplified music. There's nothing weak here, no ballads or downhearted blues, but instead highly charged music guaranteed to energize his fan base and remind everyone why Steve Smith
has been at the pinnacle of excellence for all his adult life. Most mainstream jazz mavens will know the revered Horace Silver
hard samba evergreen "Nutville," done righteously by the Buddy's Buddies
quintet, all star alums from Buddy Rich'
s big band, featuring the potent sax work of Steve Marcus
(tenor) and Andy Fusco
(alto). "Ya Gotta Try" is another classic from the book of Rich
, Sammy Nestico'
s bopper with pianist Mark Soskin
on fire alongside the two saxes in a live track at Ronnie Scott's in London, England. Marcus
again appears on "Scotland" with the Count's Jam Band, doing a revised take of Larry Coryell'
s seminal free-to-stomp-down fusion icon, with a snake-like swirling soprano accompanying Coryell
's burning electric guitar. "Wrong Is Right" revisits another Coryell
composition, but in this case with a hard-swinging bop organ combo featuring the guitarist and keyboardist Tom Coster
. Then there's "Caliente" in a completely different vein, fusing slight Latin inferences with the sophisticated country fusion of ex-Mahavishnu Orchestra
violinist Jerry Goodman
, and the always wonderful Howard Levy
playing electric keyboards, or his ever familiar harmonica. You get two tracks with guitarists Scott Henderson
, or Frank Gambale
in the case of "Geo 100" with the GHS trio, most noticeable for bassist Stu Hamm's Jaco Pastorius
-like popping bassline that buoys Gambale
's shiny and bright persona. Included are two solo drum excursions and the combo piece "Flashpoint" featuring an on-fire Dave Liebman
with his trusty soprano sax, accompanied by electric keyboardist Aydin Esen
and electric bassist Anthony Jackson
that suggests latter-period Miles Davis
funk/fusion. All in all, this is quite the worthy compilation, supremely diverse in the music chosen that spans all of the many facets and phases in Steve Smith'
s intriguing and exciting career as one of the top-drawer, in-demand, and on-command contemporary jazz-based drummers.