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More and more in today's music, terms like style and genre are becoming irrelevant. Yes, there will always be self-appointed musicians and critics to make sure we are all educated as to what is jazz and what isn't or who plays the blues authentically and who doesn't or what is and isn't classical music or what is world music and what isn't. Categories, opinions, justifications, recriminations. Can't we all just get along?
Fortunately, in the world inhabited by Uncle Vito none of this matters. Why? Because it all matters. Music has no categories, just lazy people who always always want to define and outline without really taking the time. This smelly, precise, sloppy, tight, and loose garage of a fusion band sucks all its influences up and barfs them out, in chunks large and small, through your speakers in the name of groove and unbridled creativity and passion.. We want to deliver you colors, sensitivity, aggression, joy, woe, and dynamics and a whole lot of groove in a tiny little package so that we can give to you -- the listener -- what you've given us -- the ability to present our music without compromise so you can shake your hineys or just sit back and relish the sonic space.
Ostensibly, Uncle Vito came together at the Ram's Head Downbar in Annapolis, Maryland, almost by accident. Annapolis is a small city of 35,000 folks with an amazing talent pool of artists and musicians from every discipline. Nonetheless, I was still rather shocked to find some comrades in arms within a stone's throw so easily.. As a "jazz" guitarist who had sublimated his roots in all that is stanky (Jimi/McLaughlin/Fripp/Zappa) for the tastier pastures of Hall, Metheny, and Wes I grew frustrated as did many of the sidemen I played with when I'd finally crank up the distortion or descend into oblivion at the end of the night and have it go nowhere. Several of my jazzbo buddies finally said, "Hey, call me for the jazz stuff but we ain't blowin' over one chord all night." Oh well, what is a randy guitarist to do? Find the hulking bear of a bassist Jonesy from Feedbag of course! Not long after Kirby (now affectionately known as the Kirbinator), also of Feedbag, enlisted in the cause. with a name like Feed bag I knew I wouldn't be blowin' over Stella. Soon, we were hoarding ourselves at the trough of musical delights where the noble fans of the Ram's Head danced and orgied like freaks and allowed us to experiment and get our ya-yas out all in the same tune.
This CD, Tao Of Vito, is the result of this unholy alliance of recovering music geeks, depressives, and control freaks. It is a live recording, a fact that we are deeply proud of. I moped around for days thinking of all the overdubs with the synth and getting levels, EQ's, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. All the burdens of a studio effort had me by the nuts. But hell no! In a glorious eight hours we recorded this disc and even another of free improvs with hardly a break in the action. I realized for the first time that we are all capable of great things just by letting go and playing. Just three dudes, losing themselves in the intensity of the job at hand. Yeah, it can get a little sloppy and loose. So what! It's real. It's honest. These tunes evolved and breathed and felt right with just a minimum of discussion. Some of the tight endings and near unison passages come from just playing together week after week, three long sets at a time. I am also proud that we didn't ride them knobs during the mix or add even an ounce of compression to the disc. This is as much a testament to our rather anal yet totally supportive engineer as its is to the fact that we captured our sound on tape like we actually sound, know what I mean? Usually, with some of my other CD's I tell people "It's just a snapshot of us when e play live". Well with the Tao Of Vito, I am happy to say this ain't no postcard, hell it's not even a life-sized blow up doll. It IS us.
The title the Tao of Vito expresses some of our loose and hardly ever spoken beliefs about the sound under the sounds, the joy that music brings, the artificial dichotomy between the earthly and the heavenly, the difficulty of working together, the satisfaction of working together, and finally, the simple yet profound act of dedicating one's self to a life in music. In the end, Uncle Vito can only strive toward this, honing it's art in smoky bars and distant clubs far from our little town on the bay. But we believe we have something to say. We also believe that we have even more to learn. Why the Tao of Vito? Perhaps Lao Tzu as translated in Wilhelm's Tao Te Ching summed it up best -- "being clear about the invisible." I take that to mean our influences, whether the explorations of Crimson, P-Funk, Mahavishnu, Zappa, or Ornette are self-evident. Our shared history merely prongs used to penetrate deep into the invisible world of communal music making for you, our honored guests.
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