New York, NY (Top40 Charts)
Utilizing vibraphone and guitar as lead instrumental voices isn't just an unusual pairing on the contemporary jazz scene, but together they form an organically warm and earthy sound. Cast in settings etched from impassioned fusion expeditions and soul-powered funk grooves, Vibes Alive's third album, "Vibrasonic," is a refreshing listen. Dropping March 6 from Swingding Records, the 10-tracker written and produced by vibraphonist Dirk Richter and guitarist Randall Crissman is preceded by the invigorating title track, which has already been added to the SiriusXM Watercolors playlist and earned Most Added status on the Billboard singles chart.
Making albums with the frequency of a total eclipse, each Vibes Alive outing is equally rare and special. If there was a third member of the duo, it would be Jeff Lorber, the GRAMMY-winning keyboardist and fusion pioneer who has joined Richter and Crissman for all three Vibes Alive albums. Lorber plays keys, synthesizers, piano and synth bass on "Vibrasonic" and mixed a few of the tracks. Legendary drummer Vinnie Colaiuta anchors the rhythm section with Jimmy Johnson on bass and Luis Conte on percussion.
"Vibes Alive is a creative endeavor based on the friendship that I've had with Randall since we met when we were in college. Randall and I always got off on the way the Hammond organ, pianos and guitars sounded. Then getting into mallet percussions, specifically the vibraphone, because of the frequencies that are created - the overtones - the possibilities for harmonic enhancement, that kind of takes you to the next level. We wanted the music to be alive, to be spontaneous and creative and we want that creativity to lean into the idea of a good universe, of love for the planet and of love for your neighbor. Vibes Alive is that connection between what you love and what you feel most in love with and how to be creative in the midst," said Richter about the duo's inception and purpose.
Each Vibes Alive album takes years to construct, in part because Crissman is a prolific, in demand Emmy nominated composer of television soundtracks. There was an 11-year gap between their 1997 self-titled debut and the release of their sophomore set, "After Hours." A dozen years later, here comes "Vibrasonic." According to Richter, the new recording is purposeful.
"As it is these days for everybody, life's kind of hard. We need things without bias, without judgement; open our hearts to love and sonic enhancement for the sake of healing. These frequencies and rhythms are the most base and obvious connection to our souls."
"Sweet Vibes" opens and establishes the tone for the album. Lorber's Minimoog intertwines with Richter's vibraphone, adding spacy dimensions to the soul-jazz odyssey. "Vibrasonic" is a propulsive rocket ride into the outer orbit. Going downtempo, "Windchime" signals a return to the gravitational force of earth with Crissman's electric fretwork and Richter's vibes forming a magnetic melody. Richter's vibes mesmerize and haunt "Earthtones," which explores a frenetic Colaiuta-Johnson pocket. Crissman uses a nylon string guitar to pour sensitive hues into "Waterfall." The welcoming "Going Home" spreads cheer and comfort, affording the players ample room to relish the homecoming. Vibes and guitar engage in imaginative discourse on "Daydream." "Rainy Day
" sets a contemplative tone. Lorber's storming organ helps power "Spy," a fun and mysterious vibraphonic frolic that breaks into a swinging jazz bridge. The record closes with "Guitar Noir," a hypnotic number penned by Crissman, who shines on guitars, keys and bass.
"Randall and I have had this experience connecting with people - the musicians we record with - and have them willingly connect with us," concludes Richter. "We have this opportunity to give love to the world, and to see what the world gives back is the greatest joy. It's like a sign on a post that tells you you're going in the right direction because everything is a blessing and it moves your heart. It's almost like everything becomes a miracle. You know you're in good company. You step back, take a deep breath…that's Vibes Alive. It's the joy of living."
"Vibrasonic" includes the following songs: