From "Don't Stop Believin'" to konnakul. What does that mean, you ask? Allow me to explain.
Journey, a band mostly known for gargantuan stadium anthems from the late seventies to the mid eighties, had a secret weapon in their ranks. Those who didn't take their toilet breaks during the individual solo segment of Journey concerts might have picked up on it though. That weapon was their uncommonly virtuosic drummer with the common name, Steve Smith.
Taken as a whole, Smith's 1979-1985 stint in Journey really only amounted to a temporary diversion into mainstream rock, and if anything, constrained his abilities. Lead singer Steve Perry literally did Smith a favor by firing him (Perry supposedly wanted a "more soulful" drummer).
Perhaps in need of an episode on VH-1's "Where Are They Now?", Smith is doing just fine these days, thank you very much. He has become a major figure on the fusion jazz and even straight jazz scene, working with such heavies as Jean-Luc Ponty (pre-Journey), Mike Manieri and Steps Ahead, Allan Holdsworth, Stanley Clarke and Ahmad Jamal. He even took the great Buddy Rich's chair as he led Rich's old band at a smoking engagement at London's famed Ronnie Scott's club a few years back. In recent years, Smith and Buddy's Buddies had evolved into a non-tribute straight-jazz outfit called Jazz Legacy.
But Smith's primary vehicle of the last quarter century has been his own fusion outfit, Vital Information. Born out of Smith's 1983 first solo album of the same name while he was still in Journey (a full year before Steve Perry came out with his own first solo album), Vitalization marks the 12th release under the Vital Information moniker.
V.I. has had an evolving cast of players aside from Smith, but has long been a drums-bass-guitar-keyboards quartet, playing fusion that is a lot more energetic and creative than smooth, and uses healthy doses of world beat, swing and bop. Keyboardist Tom Coster has been in the band almost since the beginning, he's the guy who earlier replaced Smith's Journey bandmate Gregg Rolie in Santana. Original Chick Corea Elektric Band axeman Frank Gambale was also in Vital Information for a number of years, up until this latest release. Since 2002, Barron Browne, also a Ponty alum, has undertaken the electric bass duties.