Picks and Pans Review: Vital Information
Smith, drummer for the pop-rock group Journey, turns out to be a closet jazz musician, and quite an accomplished one. Not surprising perhaps, since he says he was a "Buddy Rich clone" as a teenager, studied at the Berklee College of Music in Boston and toured with Jean-Luc Ponty, among others. He makes his presence felt on this fusion LP without indulging in a lot of star-trip solos—he's obviously gotten over the Buddy Rich syndrome. The LP's real star, in fact, is saxophonist Dave Wilczewski, a longtime chum of Smith's who studied at the New England Conservatory of Music. His own tune Stoughton to Stockholm Samba (he was born in Stoughton, Mass. and now lives in Sweden) is a blending of the jazz, rock and Latin rhythms and tones that can make fusion an exciting form. His solos are dynamic and witty, nicely complementing the intensity of guitarists Dean Brown and Mike Stern and Smith's subtle percussion work. As for Smith, the LP establishes him as far more than a Journey man.
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