The term supergroup is probably second only to genius
as the most abused word within the artistic lexicon of the English language. That
being said, Jing Chi is undeniably a fusion supergroup that once again ignites
its creative chemistry on the bands new release, 3D. The trios third
album reunites the rarefied pedigree of Robben Ford (Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell),
Vinnie Colaiuta (Frank Zappa, Sting) and Jimmy Haslip (Yellowjackets), who collectively
inspire one another to remarkable heights.
from the sheer virtuosity the band members of Jing Chi share, the overwhelming
sense of musicality permeates 3D to a degree that is not often found on recent
fusion albums. Unlike most of their contemporaries, Ford, Colaiuta, and Haslip
seem to intuitively sense what will benefit the song rather than using the song
as a vehicle for mindless shredding. The stellar performances on Chi Town,
Time Is A Magazine, and Tangled Up leave the listener
desiring to hear the entire album again, becoming only more astounded with each
Perhaps one of the ingredients for the recordings sense of palpable urgency
is the fact that the actual recording process was both immediate and interactive.
In an era of studio perfection and obsessive attention paid to minute detail,
Haslip explains, We played everything live in the studio and I augmented
it [the existing tracks] with synths. We did the whole record in three days [recording]
. . . and I was totally thrilled with the way it came out sound-wise and I really
have to take my hat off to our engineers.
Another intriguing moment on 3D is the appearance of a vocal track, which is Robert
Cray making a guest appearance on a cover of Blind Willie Johnsons Its
Nobodys Fault But Mine. What adds to intrigue is the fact that
Jing Chi made no attempt to simply recreate an ancient standard verbatim; instead,
they performed it by incorporating modern elements. Haslip describes, I
asked Vinnie to come up with a [drum] loop to modernize it and Vinnie came up
with this wild loop with tabla drums and Hare Krishna bells, which made the song
really funky. We ran that loop and played live to it . . . [with Robert Cray]
We got one take down on Pro Tools just as a rehearsal and we did another take
and that was it.
One can only hope that the bands musical alchemy will continue to blossom
and the growing cult of ardent fans will enjoy watching Jing Chi take their music
into new dimensions.