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Steve Smith & Vital Information: Vitalization

Drummer Steve Smith knows no stylistic boundaries. He played arena pop with Journey, then started a varied jazz session career, and has led the fusion band Vital Information for the past quarter-century. Perhaps it’s because that group’s new release follows its strongest (2004’s Come On In) in 20 years, or because Smith’s recent sessions include Indian music with saxophonist George Brooks’ Summit group (with tabla drummer Zakir Hussain), but Vitalization sounds like a case of mistaken identity.

Smith has been studying konnakol (South Indian vocal percussion), which he and guest percussionist Pete Lockett employ on the opening “Interwoven Rhythms-Synchronous.” Vital Information fans may be double-checking their CDs to be sure the wrong one wasn’t enclosed. Longtime keyboardist Tom Coster’s stop-and-start instrumental “Get Serious” sounds more familiar, aided by guest percussionists Gilad and Juan Carlos Melian.

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