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Album Review

Vertu is undeniably an ambitious project, certainly more so than most contemporary fusion projects. At the core of the collective are Stanley Clarke and Lenny White, the renowned rhythm section of Return to Forever; they're augmented by violinist Karn Briggs, keyboardist Rachel Z, and former Poison guitarist Richie Kotzen, of all people. It's a wildly eclectic group of musicians, and they appropriately tackle all sorts of music, from straight-ahead fusion and post-bop to worldbeat and classical-tinged rock. Thanks to the fine musicianship of all involved, it's not nearly the mess that it could have been, but it's hardly an unqualified success, either. The main problem is the weird blend of songs and compositions. Vertu is basically divided between songs (only a handful of which feature Kotzen's strained bluesy vocals), which have one simple melody, and flowing, multi-layered, multi-sectioned compositions. In each case, they're graced by some truly extraordinary playing (laugh you may, but Kotzen is a gifted guitarist and it's a pleasure to hear him stretch out, instead of being confined to pop-metal), but the songs often are built around lame themes that feel like excuses for improvisations; even worse, those themes are often delivered with the tone and grace of a television commercial. Vertu is much better with "Topasio Es Puro Corazon" and "Danse of the Harlequin" — opportunities to build fascinating contrasts in sound, both through themes and improvisations. These pieces, along with the plentiful solo sections in the flawed songs, have some great interplay that will certainly be of interest to fans of all the involved musicians. And if they're longtime fans of any of the members (especially Clarke, White, and Return to Forever), they'll realize that creative risks are often successful and flawed in equal measure, so they won't be discouraged by the awkward moments on Vertu.

Customer Reviews


Wow. How many times can someone disrespect Richie Kotzen in one review? For one, his playing speaks for itself and I think if you spend more than a nano second listening to it you would see that he is a remarkable guitar player and vocalist (and not "strained" as the reviewer commented). The only critique I see made of Richie is that he played with the band Poison. I think he can put the scarlet letter away now.

The best jazz and jazz fusion music made is when the musicians involved explore the sonic landscape. Part of that exploration is utilizing the talents of the people involved. A "widely eclectic" group of musicians is bound to make eclectic music. That is the point, isn't it?

Seeing as how Return To Forever has been done it would have been pointless to walk that road again. Vertu is a different road and one well worth walking down. As long as you can check your expectations at the door. There are no disappointments in this music. With musicians of this caliber the least you would get out of it is to be taken to school.

If you listen to jazz/ fusion in order to be a snob then by all means turn your noses up at Richie Kotzen and scoff at how Vertu isn't RTF. If you love music and are open to new experiences then open your mind and ears and enjoy!

Classic Fusion Reimagined

Nice gatehring of talent, nice mudicianship & delivery - worth the $10 if you're willing to veer from the musical norm. Definitely reminiscent of old RTF or Jean Luc Ponty.

Lenny White brings it AGAIN!

For a young man (25 yrs old), this music BLOWS ME AWAY. I fell in love with Lenny White courtesy of his 'Adventures of Astral Pirates' album--found it a few years back during a random jam session with our old bass player's father...regardless, this music is SICK! Jazz fusion seems to be another way of saying 'progressive rock played by black dudes.' I absolutely LOVE what they've done--and if you dig this, get Astral Pirates as well as some of White's work with Twennynine...and you can never go wrong with Miles Davis' B*****s Brew. Prog-rockers will LOVE this stuff!


Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s

The jazz fusion group Vertú reunited the classic Return to Forever rhythm section of bassist Stanley Clarke and drummer Lenny White, adding to the mix guitarist Richie Kotzen, violinist Karen Briggs and keyboardist Rachel...
Full Bio
Vertú, Vertú
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Customer Ratings