GHS3 (Tone Center 4023, August 20 street date), the third recording by Frank Gambale, Stu Hamm and Steve Smith, is an awesome session. Cast in the early '70s fusion tradition, it holds nothing back. This is not crossover music, this is going-for-the-jugular music.
In Gambale, a former member of Chick Corea's Elektric Band and current member of Steve Smith's Vital Information, you have one of the most incredible guitar technicians on the planet today. Frank's sweep picking facility is by now legendary stuff among guitar aficionados and he unleashes it with jaw-dropping abandon on the opening track "All in Your Head" as a kind of in-your-face manifesto that sets the tone for this burning project. Hamm, longtime sideman to guitar hero Joe Satriani, is possibly one of the few electric bass guitarists who could cut the blazing unison lines thrown at him on Gambale's demanding compositions "Confuse-A-Blues" and "The Challenger."
Smith, a former member of Jean-Luc Ponty's mid-'70s powerhouse group as well as a longtime member of rock supergroup Journey, holds his own alongside Frank and Stu in this fusiony fray, blending power and precision in his uniquely melodic approach to the kit. Says ringleader Smith, "There's a great chemistry that happens with this trio, especially in the jamming aspect. It's so easy and natural. Rhythmically it's comfortable and there's a lot of interesting interplay that goes on."
Gambale, Hamm, and Smith established a quick chemistry in the studio on their first Tone Center outing together, 1999's jam-oriented Show Me What You Can Do. For their follow-up, 2000's The Light Beyond, the trio placed more emphasis on compositions than all-out jamming. GHS3 features their most ambitious writing yet, along with all the sparks and pyrotechnics we've come to expect from these three formidable players.