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Jing Chi, Jing Chi Live (Shrapnel/Tone Center)
Jimmy Haslip, Vinnie Colauta, and Robben Ford make up Jing Chi. All three are respected figures in jazz-rock circles. Their latest collaboration, a live club recording, is supposed to be a loose, collective jam session but is really all about Ford and his forceful, blues-based improvisations. Moreover, despite being marketed as a jazz (or at least jazz-oriented) album, Jing Chi is an exercise in Woodstock-era "progressive" music. If that is a sound for which you have an undying fondness then Jing Chi Live does all that one could require of it. If, however, you find the very idea dated and dinosaur-like, not much here will change your mind. There is no doubting Ford's technical expertise, and the band as a whole is evidently enjoying itself. The two guests -- saxophonist Marc Russo and keyboards wizard Otmara Ruiz -- are both solid. However, everything tends towards the leaden and the repetitive. To be fair, the up-tempo tracks have the right sense of drive and urgency, while the quieter pieces have a pleasant, meandering, Grateful Dead quality to them, and tracks like the lengthy "Hong Kong Incident" do achieve a kind of crude grandeur. The vocal cuts are horrible, though, and really give the game away. It's a rock extravaganza, well played but sadly lacking in subtlety and grace. For axe-worshippers only.