Vital Information

Ray of Hope

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Ray of Hope is Vital Information's seventh release, the first for Intuition Records and their first in four years. The material was actually recorded long before the release, while leader/drummer Steve Smith shopped around for a record deal. The majority of the selections have heavy commercial overtones, but the heavy grooves, nice melodies, and superb musicianship save this from being just another light fusion affair. Ever the selfless leader, Smith gives all bandmates plenty of opportunities to shine. In particular, keyboardist Tom Coster and bassist Jeff Andrews both shine on their duet of Horace Silver's "Peace." Drummers will be most pleased with the Max Roach-inspired drum solo "Maxed Out," a three-minute tour de force that proves why Smith is held in such high regard among his colleagues. While Ray of Hope may not be the most inspired recording the band has released, there is enough here to please most fans of high-energy jazz/rock fusion and/or contemporary jazz.

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