Frank Gambale - Stu Hamm - Steve Smith - Jazz Fusion rock - "Eclectic Earwig Reviews Music and More for You!"
prog rock, jazz fusion, jazz rock, jazz, pysch/trance, space, electronic, ambient, essentially eclectic excellence

Eclectic Earwig Reviews

Eclectic Earwig Reviews

Multiple reviews below . . .


Gambale / Hamm / Smith: GHS3
2002, Tone Center, TC-40232

My scheme to obtain objectivity in my music reviews by putting a bunch of CDs randomly into my disc changer so I wouldn't know which one I was listening was blown to smitherenes by GHS3. There just is no mistaking the guitar work of the phenomenal Frank Gambale. And, Mr. Gambale is in extraordinary form on GHS3. This effort from the superhuman trio exceeded all expectations that I may have had prior to listening. Simply put, this album is astounding.

Gambale, Hamm and Smith have produced an extraordinary fusion collage of epic stature on GHS3. The arrangements are subduing with the combination of clean-toned rhythms, chordal phrasings, grooving bass lines, and crystaline, blazing fretwork. Gambale's leadwork is amazing, even by Gambale standards. The balance of speed, melodicity, harmonization, and signature chordal voicings a la sweep picking will be found demoralizing to the most staunch guitar technicians. But do not despair, because the inspiring musicality and accessible content will offset any feelings of inadequacy related to lack of axemanship or inventive skills. This CD will inspire inner peace when contemplating the mastery that the trio projects with their command over their instruments, harmonization, arrangement, thematic invention, and general creativity.

The direction that Gambale is taking on his last few efforts makes one think that they are witnessing the making of the classics of the future and are living in times that will be recounted as legendary when people later reflect upon the great albums that Gambale is producing. Rarely among the CDs that I am sent to review do I ever receive an album of this caliber. There is no other way to put it... WORLD CLASS!!! ... and in every regard. Gambale, Hamm, and Smith demonstrate the criteria on this CD that allows them to be counted among my all time favorites with their double-edged psychological dichotomy... demoralizing and inspiring, both at the same time!

Guitar Frank Gambale
Bass Stuart Hamm
Drums Steve Smith
1) All In Your Head
2) The Great Roberto
3) Confuse-a-Blues
4) Saving Grace
5) Culture Clash
6) Geo 100
7) November
8) The Challenger

~ Christopher Ruel ~ ~ ~ Chris Ruel's Monthly Spotlight

Jazz Fusion Progressive world music
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Buy Frank Gambale right here!
Frank Gambale
: Coming To Your Senses; (CD, 63:30) Favored Nations Entertainment, 2000 FM2001-2 Cyberhome(s): and This is solid, good-n-sassy jazz guitar with a melodic-bent, fusion-driven flow. Gambale is know for his various approaches on his solo albums from smooth melodic jazz, to jazz fusion, to real scorching, shredded rockers and all points in-between. His playing is virtuoso, fully lyrical, phrasings to die for, technical wizardy, sweep picking mastery, speed, grace, and soul. Being the critic I am, I will admit some Gambale releases just didn�t do it for me as his range of styles are wide but on this release he has excelled, grabbing honors and creating a deeply enjoyable listen. There are the mellow moments of ethereal chordal dream-fugues and also the fired- up cranked-wide rippings of guitar herein. Guitar lovers take note -- whether you rock, fuse, or jazz -- Gambale will delight most all this go round. This release echoes the compositional bounce and joyful soul of Gambale�s 1980's era A Present For The Future, released by the defunct Legato label. Be sure to not miss the amazing bass work by Ric Fierabracci on each of the ten tracks. The general guitar soloing textures, sonic fill colorings, and well-utilized riff-edge of Gambale�s recent Show Me What You Can Do is another good reference point for you axe-heads. By the way, �Frank the Sweeper� throws in some sweet acoustic and Sitar guitar for a total spectrum of cool. Enjoy this �10" out of a possible 10 as I have now for many, many listens. I have set this aside after several long intervals, only to pick it up again and find the joy all over again. Highest of recommendations. Grab this one. And hey, Steve Vai, thanks for letting Gambale do this one on your label! It is top-notch, class guitar. ~ John W. Patterson, EER- TOP PICKS

Another opinion . . . Artist: Frank Gambale Title: Coming to Your Senses Genre: Rock/Instrumental, Fusion, Jazz Label: Favored Website: I remember watching Frank Gambale play at a Chic Corea concert while attending the annual Concord Jazz Festival in 1985. I was amazed with his lightning quick fingers and his powerful sweeping guitar lines. Corea was always at his rocking fusion best when he played with great guitar players like DiMeola and Gambale. Coming to Your Senses seems as though it is a self-imposed wake up call for the dynamo Gambale. With fluid and focused guitar playing, Frank blows his way through 10 tracks with seamless ease. Each track offers a different taste of fusion �lan drawing from an endless well of influences, styles and genres. If it is variety your ears hunger for, this CD will be your cup of tea. While the ever-important production values are exceptional throughout this recording, Gambale�s playing is tight and clean as a whistle, never leaving a note hanging out there to get stale. He continually infuses new and fresh ideas into each track. Just as a heart pumps after a long rigorous run, its full bore at all times for this man. Simply said�this album offers instrumental guitar rock-fusion at its very best. �"Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck May 29, 2003 1. Up in Beachwood - 6:55 2. Circular Quay- 5:41 3. Major Fascination - 6:40 4. Salvador Once More - 9:57 5. Cybernaughts - 6:06 6. Mirage Mystery - 4:21 7. Isola d'Elba - 4:46 8. Land of the Leal- 8:14 9. The Italian Job- 5:29 10. Loch Ness Monsters - 5:16 Rating- 5 stars!! Credits: Frank Gambale - Guitar (Acoustic), Arranger, Guitar (Electric), Sitar, Sound Effects, Producer Ray Brinker - Drums Rick Fierabracci - Bass Mark Schulman - Drums Joel Taylor - Drums Enzo Todesco - Drums Hans Zermuellen - Keyboards

Jazz Fusion Progressive world music
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Frank Gambale: Coming To Your Senses
2000, Favored Nations Entertainment

Normally, when I am preparing myself to listen to Frank Gambale, I have to gain my composure and resolve for an overload on my senses. But, this time around with Coming To Your Senses, Frank Gambale has truly come up with some music that will delight your senses without the overload. Normally upon listening to a Frank Gambale album, I am inspired to stop playing guitar because I see the futility in the long hours of practice for me. But, this time around, Frank Gambale has inspired me to abandon all hopes of composition, as well as to stop my guitar playing. This is what truly great music is all about... disheartening the lesser-talented musicians of trying any longer! ;) The threshold of good music is raised so high that it becomes unattainable by mere mortals.

So, what is it that I find about Coming To Your Senses that is so satisfying? Well, Frank Gambale's ludicrous guitar talent is known widely; this is no secret. But, what was surprising to me about Coming To Your Senses was the attention given to thematic development and listener accessibility. Frank Gambale has tightened the reigns on this effort and pulled himself in a little ways from the extreme fusion guitar mauling that characterize a lot of his efforts. This effort has a very solid foundation in theme-oriented music with very classy, sophisticated melodies with tenuous, exploratory harmonization that really hits the mark. The music on this album is a little closer to the conventional jazz end of the compositional spectrum than the wildly explorative jazz fusion that sometimes misses with listener appeal. But, the satisfaction derived from the compromise in Gambale's flamboyent guitar mastery and a solid baseline of quality themes, is because with this music you are getting both. It is just that the guitar speed and eccentricity are not the focus, but instead more of a tool it seems.

But, don't get confused by this. Gambale still fires up some awesome playing on this album. It just takes on a different nature. The chordal arrangements and rhythms explore some really interesting and soulful ideas in harmonization. And, the harmonization explored, though very complex and intricate, achieves something very uncommon for this level of sophistication... listener accessibility. And, this is the genius in Coming To Your Senses. I think the appeal in this album will extend beyond Gambale's normal base of hardcore jazz fusion guitarists and musicians into a broader listener audience, while still keeping the respect of his loyal, educated audience... a tough juggling act to balance for any virtuoso-caliber musician... and even tougher to keep it going for an entire album as Gambale has done on Coming To Your Senses. This music will not only "wow" the guitarists, it should be pleasing to anybody who likes jazz or fusion. Gambale definitely did not drop his sweeps and other guitar stunts in his bag of tricks when he was putting this album together. But, it seems he has given thought to deploying them a little differently this time around.

Coming To Your Senses is sensible no matter what angle you approach it from. The production and instrumentation are very tactful. The composition is brilliant. The improvisation is nothing less than you would expect from Gambale, but is tightly integrated with the themes. There is a wide range of dynamics and musical ideas that are seamlessly integrated. And my pet peave, the melodic quality of the themes, is disarming when considering the harmonization it uses for a base... really jaw-dropping. This is jazz fusion at its best: complex harmonization and sophisticated composition packaged in a listener-accessible format with an extreme guitar edge. I recommend this one highly. Solid from start to finish.

1) Up In Beachwood
2) Circular Quay
3) Major Fascination
4) Salvador Once More
5) Cybernaughts
6) Mirage Mystery
7) Isola d'Elba
8) Land Of The Leaf
9) The Italian Job
10) Lock Ness Monster

~ Christopher Ruel ~ ~

Jazz Fusion Progressive world music
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The Light Beyond, jazz fusion for year 2000
Gambale/Hamm/Smith: The Light Beyond (CD, 59:04); Tone Center TC-40102, 2000 If I had to find patterns or echoes of another guitarist in Gambale's chordal progressions, breakdowns, and eruptions into vitriolic riffs of ostinatos and legatos, all being sweep- picking showcases � I'd have to say I keep hearing Mahavishnu John McLaughlin's style in his Mahavishnu Orchestra daze of fusion. Listen to opening cut, "Katahdin" for evidence. And next track, Gambale surprises me with signature Allan Holdsworth voicings; those dream-laden, chordal noodlings and odd maneuvers of scale. This gives Hamm room to stretch oh so mellow and expressively smooth. Gambale returns the bass solo an answer full of strength and passion, aflame with that picking style pioneered so long ago. To listen to Gambale hit high gear on a riff brings forth images of 12-fingered hands with an 18-inch fretboard span! Hamm and Smith are both monsters on bass and drums adding a huge amount of soul and talent all around this disc. Track four, "The Throne Of Savitar" takes me back to the flavor of Inner Mounting Flame's "Dance of Maya" and early Stanley Clarke releases like School Days with the now, long-lost, Ray Gomez going crazy on guitar. Excellent cut! Lotsa classic 70s distortion too, thank-you. The mid-song break, trance-time, lets Steve Smith do some of the best skins work I have ever heard from him to date. Bravo Steve-o! Next few trax offer solo bass, a mellow jazz, slow tune, then a drum solo. Track eight, "Lumpy's Lament" gets back to the "meltin'-down-the-Kenny-G-stack-o-plastic" kind of fusion I like with heavy beat, mean drums, and overdriven crunch Gambale used so well on the 1998 Show Me What You Can Do release. Great song but way too short! (CDs will now hold more jams than LPs did guys.) Remember those excellent Bill Connors' acoustic, solo guitar releases way back when? Gambale next offers a similarly, superb acoustic guitar vignette. It is an "intro" to the final cut, "Fugitive Aspirations" with reverby, full sustain, ethereal, soul-angst guitar, bell-like introspective bass progression, and truly sexy brushes, high hats aglistening. Schweet boys, that nice. Gambale excels with all his effects, channel switching, feedbacks, loopings, back-o-the-bridge chimings/harmonics, wow, and alien invasion guitar that sang to my soul like no other song on this disk. Frank, my good mate, Stu, and Steve y'all done darn good by me on that performance! Please fill another CD up with killer jams like this again! The Light Beyond is another heads-above-the-rest fusion experience. It's a high rollin', hard-chargin', visionary work � a musicianship tour de force! "Wake up ya smooth-jazz, limp-wristed, split-reed, weenies and smell this espresso!" Gambale, Hamm, and Smith have done it again. Wham, bam, yes mam! ~ John W. Patterson TOP PICKS

This review featured in: John Collinge's Progression Magazine

Jazz Fusion Progressive world music
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Show me what you can do, a fusion CD to buy for sure!
Frank Gambale, S.Hamm, S.Smith: Show Me What You Can Do (CD, 57:41);Tone Center TC40012 I'm upfront, in the middle, and lastly a fusion fan. Why? Jazz fusion is what brought me into the world of prog and all the rest of it. That said, biases in the clear now, listen up. Gambale and the gang tear it up! Stu Hamm is Levinesque-thundering, Stanley Clarke-kicking bass. Vital Information's Steve Smith's drumming keeps right up when it gets wild and hold things together during spacey chordal splurges. These pros got pumped watching old Mahavishnu Orchestra videos and cranked up the old fusion fires. Gambale surprised me on this one. So many of his other releases exhibit more of that bouncy jazz with clean, fast, sweep picking and an obvious structured disciplined approach. This album shows he can get mean, edgy, overdriven, raw, and a downright awesome riff monster. Hamm is an earthquake, Smith a splinter-slingin'tornado. I heard McLaughlin's odd modes and moods clearly influencing "The Promise" and "Dangerous Curves". Tasteful harp-plucked chord progressions build in a Summers/Metheny/Holdsworth meshwork. Everyone gets space to stretch on "Beyond The Bridge" and "Sink". Stu goes bassman crazy on "Wrong and Strong". Watch out Manring. On "Astral Traveler" Gambale does the Eric Johnson/Satriani dance, throws in a dose of his own machine gun bullet notes in a Scott Hendersonian bluesy-rock raunch, and deftly so at full throttle. "Tanya's Touch" sets you soul-travelin' the rain-slick, empty streets, wandering thru whispering snows, and then over the earth's glowing, blue-fired atmosphere. I like, I like. Find out for yourself what other nice surprises await you here. Pick this one up for end-of-the-millenium fusion finesse. Highly recommended. -- John W. Patterson TOP PICKS

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