Frank Gambale

GHS3

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Stop the insanity! On second thought, if you're a grizzled Return to Forever and Mahavishnu Orchestra fan who remembers when fusion was fun, don't. Just listen and get wild with these three monsters who keep the tradition banging into the new millennium. Unlike some of these projects which seem designed only for those who like loud, in-your-face, crazy guitar crunching, there are some notable cooling elements that invite the less-intense fan into the festive tribal experience. Gambale's electric crackling on "All in Your Head" leads off and has listeners thinking "crazy jam for fusion headbangers," and "The Great Roberto" features this same guitar approach filtered sonically to be more brooding in spots than intense. But Gambale is an acoustic master as well, and lighter fingerpicking bouncers like "Confuse-a-Blues" and thoughtful ballads like "Saving Grace" go down easier. Smith is a world-class drum and percussion god, and his solo showcase "Culture Clash" finds him playing Indian rhythms on the kit and then doubling them (via overdubbing) on the djembe drum. Even though this type of free-for-all project isn't for everybody, it's a refreshing flip of the bird to the clenched fists, pigeonhole, happy, modern industry where middle of the road translates to big dollars.

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