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26th May, 2004 at Motion Blue yokohama

Vital Energy filled the red brick warehouse of Motion Blue Yokohama in red hot excitement

The band shook the basement floor of Blue Note Tokyo on April 22nd with Michael Landau and Dave Goldblatt came to Yokohama as a quartet with Landau. The venue was Motion Blue Yokohama, a very nice live show spot with tantalizing list of premier class international cuisine and long list of liquid delights, as well as cozy seats in a roomy arrangement. With the opening of new train stations along the Minato Mirai Line, the venue has better access now: a few minute's walk from either Nihon-odori station or Bashamichi station.

The show was the first set starting at 7:00 pm sharp. The light went dim and the four came on stage and did routine sound check. Then upon the count off by the drummer Vinnie Colaiuta the audience was thrown into the typhoon of sound. The first song was "That Road" which is also the opening track of "Live at Yoshi's" CD. Robben's Les Paul drove with big punchy chords while Jimmy Haslip literally shook the brick walls with his heavy weight bass riff, and Colaiuta's rock steady beat shot at the audience right in the face. Goldblatt added brilliant colors to the stormy darkness of the sound and Robben Ford's lustrous bluesy guitar shined through. All in all, the band realized the name of JING CHI, Vital Energy.

Ford rested his baker Les Paul and took up the Telecaster, and led the next song "Stan Key". His crisp dry guitar tone through wowow pedal was easily identifiable as Robben Ford sound. Colaiuta's steady drumming along with Haslip's grounding bass produced uniquely heavy groove. Colaiuta had the Sub-Kick at Blue Note Tokyo but this time he only had Gretsch bass drum but sounded no less gutsy and heavy. While Ford comped on the wow-wow guitar Goldblatt went on with his electric piano patched with synthesized sound effects. His performance had a coolness on the surface but had hot core hidden inside. The song developed strongly and min the midst of stormy rhythmic onslaught it came to a cut-off ending.

Haslip introduced the band before the next song "Treasure" written by Colaiuta which is a song from forthcoming CD "JING CHI 3D". Ford took up the Les Paul. There are effective rhythm changes throughout the song and interesting syncopation among the instruments to give polyrhythmic structure to the song. Ford's solo started from growling low tones and gradually built up to a hard edged fast licks. Goldblatt's organ solo start out with a nonchalant touch but soon picked up bluesy tone and the whole band responded in a funky upbeat rhythm. Incidentally, it may be noted that the new CD will feature a surprise guest.

Next one up was also a new song called "Move On". The synthesizer sound collage effectively cooled down the heat from the song before. Colaiuta's steady 4 beat provided foundation for Ford to expand his song-singing guitar lines. Judging from the sing-along quality of the melody the song could have been a vocal piece as well.

A cover song came on at this point. It was Bob Dylan's "Cold Iron Bound" from his '97 album "Time Out of Mind". This song is also found on "Live at Yoshi's". The southern rock flavor of the original song was given rockier interpretation into heavy rock in the vein of Cream or Led Zeppelin. Colaiuta produced fiery rhythm on 4 beat foundation, and Ford takes vocal and Telecaster with adequate amount of fuzzy distortion. The Telecaster guitar tone there was absolutely fabulous. His solo was truly inspired and the overall performance of the band was awe-inspiring.

Next song was "Crazy House", an up-tempo song with clean Telecaster sound. Heavy opening turned into free form middle section where Colaiuta played rhythm on the rim shots and Goldblatt produced spacey sound collage on the synthesizer. Drums, guitar and bass all played finely woven riffs and created a hypnotic wall of sound. Ford showed his prowess on his fuzz Telecaster as the whole band played on a polyrhythmic complexity at high tension. The way Colaiuta built even more tension on the drums was enticing.

Ford picked up his Les Paul for another new song. Written by Ford, an urban blues tune titled "Blues Alley". It had a slightly dark overtone and free form atmosphere, In the first part Colaiuta used the brush and Goldblatt was in a low tone accordingly. Ford's solo was quite noteworthy as well as Colaiuta's rhythmic development with frequent rhythm changes. As Haslip continues with his hypnotic bass line, Ford shows the blues in him all the way.

The last number was "The Hong Kong Incident", which was the opening tune for the Blue Note show. Once again the full power thrust of the heavy band rocketed at the audience who sent roaring applause. Haslip's driving groove was awesome, and Goldblatt broke loose on the acoustic piano solo. Colaiuta's drumming toward the end of the song was simply fierce.

Encore tune was "Blues MD". Ford really showed that he knew how to sing through the Les Paul, and his fast lick solo was more than enough to make the whole audience boil in uproar. Goldblatt took Synthesizer solo as Ford and Haslip conversed with each other through their instruments. That's how blues should be played.

In contrast to the Blue Note Tokyo show, the band featured more of Ford's performance skills as the lead guitarist. The highlight of the evening was "Cold Irons Bound" which brought back the excitement of rock as it transformed into artistic form of expression from its primordial predecessors.

Jimmy Haslip (b)
Robben Ford (g)
Vinnie Colaiuta (ds)
with special guest
David Goldblatt (key)

Set List:
1. That Road
2. Stan Key
3. Treasure
4. Move On
5. Cold Irons Bound
6. Crazy House
7. Blues Alley
8. The Hong Kong Incident

Encore) Blues MD

Report by Tatsuro Ueda
Photograpy by Uga
Many thanks to
Motion Blue yokohama

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