Jing Chi's 3D
represents a modern look at 1970's fusion, alternately heavy and light. Several tracks featuring distorted guitars and overdriven blues licks would almost certainly have been considered heavy metal thirty-odd years ago. Tunes like "Colonel Panic" (imagine a jam session between members of ZZ Top and King Crimson) and "Tangled Up" are fairly bursting with creative riffs in different scales and chromatic hooks from guitarist Robben Ford, while drummer Vinnie Colaiuta drives the record with the polyrhythmic chops he first showed us as a member of Frank Zappa's band all those years ago. Bassist Jimmy Haslip rounds the group proper out, anchoring these excursions ably and also adding some ethereal material like "Chi Town" to balance out the proceedings. Engineering is an important part of this project as well, so the people working behind the scenes like Judd Miller and sound designer Steve Tavaglione deserve their share of the credit as well. The record sounds good, with unique sounds packed into unusual places. Last, the date also features some notable contributions from distinguished guests Larry Goldings, Robert Cray and Jason Galuten.
Now, you may be thinking this sounds like it might be a little self-indulgent. At times it is; the group plus Robert Cray's reworking of the blues standard "Nobody's Fault But Mine" finds a cool groove and it all but goes without saying fiery playing from Cray and Ford, but fourteen minutes of it is too much for anyone that isn't a tech-head guitarist. I could see leaving all that if it was simply a jam in one take that went that long, but when it ends in a fade out you can't help but wonder why they didn't give it a tighter edit. Still, there are some pretty cool sounds in there, even after your endurance begins to flag (for me around the eight minute mark). A couple of other tracks seem a minute or two over their optimum lengths as well, but for the most part this is a fun listen. If you miss the days when dinosaurs roamed the earth playing heavy, blues derived riffs that were more than sprints up and down the fretboard, you'll be heartened by what Jing Chi does on this record.