"This 1997 opus is a marvelous blend of New Age, Jazz, pop, and some world color to it. Smooth Jazz has a tendency to fall into the generic formula of generic `elevator music' production and relatively bland unmemorable music. Don't misunderstand me, smooth jazz is nice to listen to but I like more but 3rd Forces "Vital Force" though is a shining standout and still holds up so well after all these years in the field of Smooth Jazz. "In The Full Moon Light" begins the vital journey with an intoxicating Japanese harp intro and becomes a haunting worldly groove featuring stunning Flugel Horn playing by trumpeter Rick Braun. Few songs in the Smooth Jazz genre echo in my memory after so many years but this song absolutely took my breath away back when it was new in 1997 and today in 2003, it ranks as a marvelous and imaginative classic. "No Doubt" is a simpler but more danceable groove with a more upbeat, popish atmosphere that also features Rick Braun but with a muted trumpet. This song is very good and is a great song to play during a midnight backyard party. "You Gotta Be Real" is a dark, & haunting song with a more eerie atmosphere and features a welcome guest appearance from guitarist Peter White. I personally think that White is one of my favorite smooth jazz guitarist and his appearance gives "You Gotta Be Real" a lot of spark. "Give It Up" is a slightly more upbeat track with a slower beat and a sort of big band sound. A great song. "Life Me Higher" is a beautiful breezy song with a cloudier Saturday evening mood and the haunting breeze at the ending is beautiful. One of my favorite songs. "Echoes Of A Dream" is the darkest and the most complex song on the entire album. It starts with a somewhat dark undertone minor or major note fade-in and becomes an Asian colored song with somewhat of an Eastern Indian color to it and it's a very haunting and exotic song that sure stands out on the CD. "Set Yourself Free" brings us back into lighter territory after the darkness of the classic "Echoes" with a much more upbeat, jazzier song and a bluesier sound. "She Whispered To Me" is one of the best songs that 3rd Force have ever composed. It starts off with a haunting ambient intro and becomes an upbeat groove and to add to the beauty of the song itself, it also features Craig Chaquico with the lovely 12-string guitars and they all mesh together to create one of the best songs in Smooth Jazz and the best song on the entire album tied with "In The Full Moon Light". The chord progression is amazing. I love it! "I've Got To Know" is a step down from "Whispered" but is still a great track that kind of reminds me a bit of something from a Paul Hardcastle (Love his music) album. "Smiles All Around" is a much peppier and more upbeat song and is the most up-tempo song on the whole CD. This song gives a feeling of sunshine breaking through the clouds after a refreshing rainstorm. "Thorough The Shadows" brings the vital journey to a close with a refreshing mid-tempo jazz song. There aren't many remarkable smooth jazz albums that have been made in recent years but "Vital Force" is one of those few. As I said before, smooth jazz is a very good genre IMO, but it suffers from formulaic `elevator music' sounds and "Vital Force" is a pivotal landmark album in modern jazz and is highly recommend for smooth jazz or New Age listeners. I would even go far as to recommend this to those who hate Smooth Jazz."
Is this really New Age Music?
Distant Voyageur | 08/21/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I always thought of New Age music as pretentious. But this CD is down right hip! The members of 3rd Force (Aura, Dobbin, & Eskinasi) have melted together the best of contemporary jazz and ambient dance/R&B/hip-hop sounds to give this collection a fresh voice for New Age. They show their excellant musicianship and songwriting skills throughout the disc. But, they also let other great musicians take the spotlight. Trumpeters Rick Braun and Jeff Elliot are brilliant on the two opening tracks, "IN THE FULL MOON LIGHT" & "NO DOUBT". Acoustic guitar greats Peter White & Craig Chaquico shine on "YOU GOTTA BE REAL" & "SHE WHISPERED TO ME" respectively. Even without the guest musicians, they swim through the smooth dance and contemporary jazz sounds of "SET YOURSELF FREE" & "THRU THE SHADOWS". The whole album glides through smooth and groovy moods that you just can't get enough of. So when the disc is done, you start it over, wondering the whole time, "Wow, I never knew New Age music was so hip!""
May the 3rd Force be with you! (Sorry, couldn't resist!!)
Ronald Raygun | Kansas City | 11/21/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I don't give 5 stars out often but I had to here. What I love most about 3rd Force and this album in particular, is that the moods of the songs are extracted from the simple yet catchy bass melody thats hidden just beneath the surface. Try "Gotta Be Real" my personal favorite. This Band really opened my ears to smooth Jazz. I had heard "Gotta Be Real" while channel surfing one day and was so impressed by the melody and smooth sound I decided I had to buy this CD. (A big move considering I listen to hard rock!) Since buying this CD I've been hooked on Smooth Jazz, especially 3rd Force as I now have all of their albums. This album remains one of my all time favorites."
My favorite classy CD of all time - I never tire of it.
Ronald Raygun | 12/10/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I just love this CD. It is so different and classy, fresh and it melds many instruments and styles. It is great party music, background music or relaxing music. It is also technically interesting for those who are musicians."
New age grooves with a jazzy beat!
Ronald Raygun | 11/28/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Check out track number six; a "kashmir" for the 90's. The trio continues to explore new rythyms and beats, with a great outcome."