A Powerhouse Dream Trio

Vital Tech Tones (Tone Center)
Scott Henderson, Steve Smith, Victor Wooten

By Tim Robert

Supergroups are a common phenomenon: solo artists or members from other groups pulling together for a recording session or two. You'll find them in all genres of music. Obvious examples are Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Power Station, a version of the Miles Davis Quintet (featuring John Coltrane and Bill Evans) and Hindu Love Gods.

Here comes another for those into rock, blues, funk, and avant-garde and fusion jazz: Vital Tech Tones, from guitarist Scott Henderson, drummer Steve Smith (of Journey and others), and bassist Victor Wooten (Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Wooten Brothers and a successful solo career). Be forewarned: no track on this release is intended for listening at low volume. This is hard-jammin', testosterone-packed music that blasts from your speakers like water from a fire hose.

Go ahead pick a track, any track. Okay, you picked "Two for One," featuring Smith and Wooten only. It starts with a long solo from Smith, then some slap bass from Wooten that pops the song into odd-rhythmed funk. Pick again. Ah, this time you're into the opening track, "Crash Course," with Henderson's chainsaw electric guitar that moves from rock to smooth fusion modes.

How about another? Their version of John Coltrane's "Giant Steps.?." It starts off easy and traditional enough, but Wooten takes the first solo, which goes through a sudden rhythm change, then Henderson takes over with the second solo and does it in the finest traditional jazz style. One more? It's "The Captors," a true departure from anything else on the release, where the trio ventures into a mysterious, almost alien tonal sound and a monotonous, tribal rhythm. Wooten's throat singing is an added bonus.

Vital Tech Tones is a crazed blending of styles and sounds that works. Even if one selection is too much for you, there's sure to be another you'll enjoy. But no matter which track it is, its gotta be loud.