7/17: Vital Information at Nighttown

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Jazz drummer Buddy Rich, when asked his opinion of rock drummers years ago, remarked, “They’re animals … no-talent animals.” But even he might find a kind word for Steve Smith. Even though Smith played in Journey during their heyday, he has indisputable jazz cred. He’s performed across the jazz spectrum — fusion with Jean-Luc Ponty, gigs with old-school master pianist Ahmad Jamal and avant-garde hoo-ha with Wadada Leo Smith. Since the early ’80s, Smith has led the ever-evolving combo Vital Information, whose latest album, Vitalization, confirms his continuing creative cool. It’s loaded with variety — from the strutting funk of “Groove Time” and the Miles Davis echoes within “You Know What I Mean” to a greasy, hi-calorie tribute to soul-jazz organ master Jimmy Smith. Vitalization sees each member soaring, yet there’s no water-treading or excess — it should be nifty to see them live at Nighttown (12387 Cedar Rd., Cleveland Hts., 216.795.0550) at 8 tonight and 7 p.m. tomorrow. Tickets: $25. — Mark Keresman

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