Vinny Valentino recently joined Steve Smith’s Vital Information and has four previous CDs as a leader to his credit. His latest features mostly original music by his Funky Colors Band, with Marshall Keys on sax, Baron Browne on electric bass, Joel Rosenblatt on drums and Gilad on percussion. There are also special guests on the order of John Benitez, Dennis Chambers and Raymond Angry. Unfortunately, the low-budget packaging fails to itemize their contributions, leaving us to guess who is playing what.
Valentino is a fluid soloist on both acoustic and electric guitars. He’s also an adept, pop-influenced writer who can sing, as is clear on the opening title track and a couple of others. His covers of “Secret Love” and Coltrane’s “Equinox” are a bit on the light-fusion side, but “Color Funk” (with Adam Klipple on organ) and “54th Street East” (with Gilad on cajon) have an earthier thrust. “Nuevo Montuno” and “Not Yet—Enrique’s Song” are among the stronger tracks as well. But for a more fulfilling look at Valentino’s gifts, seek out his work with Gilad in the world-jazz trio On 3.