Add Frank Gambale on guitar and ding ding ding we have a winner! Dave Weckl is in rare form on this amazing funk infused release that still manages to push the band more so than turn into a sonic self absorbed bash fest for Weckl. There is a debate between the hard core Weckl fan that Gambale turns the release into a more technical record of the virtuoso ability of the pair but it is indeed a pairing that works and the end result is a controlled sonic fury that still maintains a high degree of stylistic integrity.
It's a groove thing. Simple as that...
All tunes are written by Weckle, keyboardist Jay Oliver and bassist Tom Kennedy helps out on one composition as well. The inspiration is an intense hybrid of blues, funks and a subtle nod to New Orleans without ever losing the swing of the root sound of American music in general. "101 Shuffle" is a live studio cut and lives up to the name. The first "shuffle" since Weckl's work on Robert Plant's Honeydrippers album the only overdub is saxophonist Bob Malach. Not even a click track there is an organic feel to this tune that makes a nice transition into the release and the following tune "Mud Sauce." The rhythms that have and were developed coming out of New Orleans and captured well and articulated perfectly with Kennedy pulling out the acoustic bass. Again, no click tracks just grip it and rip. "Someone's Watching" is one of the two tunes featuring guitar wizard Frank Gambale and while the direction is a bit more centered around the keyboard as the musical focal point, this somewhat spacey jam shows off the technical proficiency of both Weckl and Gambale in what smooth jazz players today refer to as "vibe." What Weckle is certainly not a smooth jazz drummer the original release date was 1998 so certain probable influences may certainly be taken into account. Conjecture? You make the call.
A little less fusion and a little more soul on Rhythm of the Soul but plenty of the Dave Weckl artistry that have fans lining up for more. Certainly a bit more outside the box for Weckle and some on line fans continue to argue is this as good as "Synergy" to which I would remind them that taste is subjective. An artist can, will and should be as creative as they feel. A personal release for Weckle dedicated to his wife and new daughter, Weckl rides the groove for all it is worth and quickly shows why he is one of the half dozen best drummers in the world. A wonderful re-issue.
Tracks: The Zone; 101 Shuffle; Mud Sauce; Designer Stubble; Someone's Watching; Transition Jam; Rhythm Dance; Access Denied; Song For Clair; Big B Little B; Good Night.
Personnel: Jay Oliver: keys; Tom Kennedy: bass; Dave Weckl: drums; Buzz Feiten and Frank Gambale: guitars; Bob Malach and Steve Tavaglione: saxophones.