Vital Information: Live Around the World: Where We Come From Tour 98-99

Journey alum Steve Smith has practically become a one-man fusion industry, through his solo workouts as well as his work with the long running Vital Information. The latter outfit’s Live Around the World: Where We Come from Tour (Intuition Int 3296-2; 58:59, 58:58) (with guitarist Frank Gambale, keyboardist Tom Coster and bassist Baron Browne) features its share of muscle flexing. But their musculature, for all its density, exhibits a surprising amount of flexibility. Hearing them bop their way through ‘Trane’s “Mr. PC” is like watching Mr. Universe do an isometric plie. That is, after all, the purpose of the band-to maintain a high skill level while exploring some unusual contexts, like Ornette Coleman’s “Happy House,” or a high-velocity cover of Zeppelin’s “Moby Dick.”