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Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars This intriguing line-up with Clarke and White as a super rythm section is the main selling point , but hardly what one shoulkd stop at. The two women are not just looking good on the picture but also sounding great: Rachel Z is simply dashing while Briggs is less present but when she is, she perforates the screen with her talented violin. But as the superb artwork is hinting, guitar is what is at the forefront. Kotzen is maybe the main reason why this band exists>

Musically, this fusion is relatively easy-going (I did not say easy-listening but it is not that far away either) and should appeal to non-demanding progheads. Unfortunately this is the kind of album that gets lost in the shuffle and the huge catalogue and let's face it, with such a huge choice up for proposal, this album dies not offer that much to draw the attention to itself> Very apt fusion with talented musicians, correct "songwriting" , but nothing that has not been done hundreds of time before>

Three stars tops: hardly essential!!!

Report this review (#63835)
Posted Monday, January 9, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After twenty+ years after glorious RTF era Lenny White and Stanley Clarke just tried to rebuilt their sound and atmosphere. And in big part they succeeded - at least rhythm section is original RTF! Ritchie Kotzen is better known as rock guitarist, but his work there is very competent. Excellent addition is Karen Briggs' violin, very Jean-Luc Ponty style. Rachel Z has her high status as studio musician (still not at the level of Chick Corea though).

So, team is really good if not excellent, and music is almost as good too. In fact, very similar to RTF mk II style, but with bigger accent on violin, and with some less accented keyboards. These is nuances, but generally album sounds good! For sure, there is late 90-s outside, so sound is not so raw, a bit polished, sometimes on light side. But still in the key of good RTF works, not lounge cheese muzak. Possibly some vocals moments were not so useful, but I believe many RTF fans will be happy with this sound!

Unhappily, it was just one-shot project. Then, we needed to wait ten more years till RTF (in their classic line-up) will reunite for world tour and strong live album.

In all, 3,5 rounded till 4.

Report this review (#273690)
Posted Tuesday, March 23, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Vertu from USA can be considered a super group, the line up is impressive mainly due the rhythmic section, here we have famouses Stanley Clarke on bass from Return to Forever, also a solo career, Lenny White on drums his mate from glorious Return to Forever, on guitra we have one respected guitarist Richie Kotzen from numerous bands as Poiison, Mr. Big , solo career, etc + 2 female musicians one on violin and the other Rachel Z on keybords. The music is jazz fusion with clear '70 direction, sometimes is a cros between Jean Luc Ponty because of the violin sometimes or Chick Corea atmosphere or Stanley Clarke solo albums. The album is ok most of the time, is dominated by Kotzen guitar, who is quite great in places, but overall I can't say is an excellent work. The violin is present here and there, giving a pleasent atmosphere, but the flat sound and usual arrangements of the recording make me saying that this self titled album is only for RTF , Jean Luc Ponty or Di Meola fans. So , a decent work, made by talented musicians, but nothing more. Opening V-Wave or On top of the rain are maybe the most exciting pieces of the album. The album can easely gone unnoticed by many. 3 stars is best I can give.

Report this review (#1195769)
Posted Thursday, June 19, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars Vertú is a joy long overdue, a "hats off" to jazz fusion. The '70s saw an explosion of jazz rock fusion groups. They need not be listed here again. The advantage of being nouveau rock enlisted a fresh group of fans, loyal devotees, and the inevitable faddish clan. With the gradual fan-base attrition, the rise of disco, and the floundering big-hair glam of the '80s -- fusion fizzled. Fusion hunkered down into a diehard, low-keyed trickle mode. Locating "golden age" fusion that hadn't mutated into semi-smooth jazz or dance floor, funk rock was a challenge for the thirsty devotee. Many a fine fusion artist simply vanished or was absorbed into the old whatever- else-works genre. I heard them say, "I grew beyond fusion . . ." while I heard the real vibes instead -- sour grapes make lemons sweet. The fiery flame dwindled into a muted flicker. Stubborn fusionists looked elsewhere to foreign lands, to the obscure -- for the good stuff.

Now, over a quarter of a century later at least some of the big boys, the phat cats of fusion are back. Stanley Clarke and Lenny White of the legendary Return To Forever show their old habits do die hard. With them, for this '90s reprise, is the formidable femme, Rachel Z on inspired and wondrous keyboards and Richie Kotzen on rockin' guitars. To further enhance the full fusion spectrum, lending that Mahavishnu Orchestra punch, is Karen Briggs on fiery and fusion-heavy violin.

Hear Clarke's signature bass solos, White's superb polyrhythmic drums, Z's ivory-clean runs, Briggs' virtuoso bowing, and the bluesy-rock, jazz-inflected riffs of Kotzen. There loads and loads of delicious morsels of fleeting unison lines, solos, and stimulating compositions. Enjoy the obvious tributes and surprise appearances of nostalgia rush on "On Top of the Rain" and "The Call". Opening track, "V-Wave" may cause many a glass of wine to overturn and CD jewel case to hit the ceiling on its attack-and-decimate opening! "Marakesh" as a slick, world fusion, groove throb, funk-jazz piece, definitely needs radio play -- globally.

On "Toys", I must say I heard Vertú at their very best. I finally got to hear Rachel Z stretch a precious bit all alone. Lenny White exploded on the skins. Briggs went delightfully crazy and yet stayed oh so tight on the unison runs. Clarke pushed it all to that mountaintop climax and sea floor-rumbling trench while Kotzen kept a controlled crunch ripping. What a perfect outro!

In all subjective fairness I have to say I wished "Start It Again" had been merely a hidden track with its rhythm-n-blues, soulman-Kotzen vocals, and fusionless shufflings. It just did not work itself into the album's aura. I guess it was somehow considered a radio-play, crossover genre track. Go figure.

Lastly, Kotzen as a the guitarist of choice for Vertú baffles me. He has brief flashes of fusion stylings when doing unison lines with Briggs or during the Di Meola/Connors overdriven melody note mimicry. But . . . his soloing, phrasings, and fills, being very strong in technique, are still lackluster, go-speed-racer-rock and fall short of fusion-fed guitar life as we devotees know it. Kotzen approaches that good olde Ray Gomez bluefuserock gestalt but I keep hearing straightup pentatonic riff-rock driving it all in that post-Poison mode. Maybe next time out Kotzen will deliver the real fusion goods like Connors, McLaughlin, Holdsworth, Henderson, Gambale, Garsed, Helmerich, McGill, and others have done so deftly. For rock enthusiasts crossing over into '90s fusion -- Kotzen will be a more than solid delight and perhaps that is exactly what is hoped and expected. All in all, Vertú is a very strong offering that will please jazz fusionists everywhere, X-generation young and RTF-old. High recommendations.

Report this review (#2582214)
Posted Thursday, July 29, 2021 | Review Permalink

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