This 1978 solo album from Return To Forever drummer Lenny White reads like an all-star "who's who" of fusion: Al DiMeola, Larry Coryell, David Sancious, Jimmy Smith, Hubert Laws, Larry Young, Patrick Gleeson, Ray Gomez, Doug Rauch, Doub Rodriguez, Weldon Irvine, Tom Harrel, Peter Robinson, Dennis MacKay, and Onaje Allan Gumbs!
"Enough talent to sink a battleship here on this exquisite 1976 debut from drummer Lenny White who was at the time fresh out of the recently disbanded Return To Forever. Al DiMeola and Larry Coryell duel it out on the closing track and it is probably the only time that they recorded together in the 70s. Venusian Summer could even be considered a Lenny White / Doug Rauch collaboration such are the funky bass contributions of Doug Rauch ( Santana, David Bowie ). It sort of reminds me of the funked out Mango Sunrise album from the John Lee Gerry Brown rhythm section pairing that went virtually unnoticed arriving with little fanfare at the time but enjoying a ressurrection on CD and blogspots over the internet.
Venusian Summer with it's ethereal cover by Larry Kresek is an instrumental concept album that really is a one off for White who demonstrates his thoughtful & moody compositional prowess that owe a lot to his time with Return To Forever. Essentially a progressive jazz album that obviously has White preoccupied with electronic ambient music that was becoming increasingly popular in the mid-seventies. White blends this fascination unobstrusively and it just works nicely. Even The Brooklyn Syntharmonic Orchestra is brought in on the hauntingly sophisticated "Sirenes" that sounds more like a soundscape from an abstract Tangerine Dream epic than a section of a jazz / rock fusion piece that morphs into a funked out R&B jam complete with a flute solo from Herbert Laws a classically trained session man! Other ambient experiments occur throughout the album on the short experimental "Prelude To Rainbow Delta" as well as the intro to "Prince of the Sea" featuring the Coryell / Di Meola twinning that is worth whatever price you pay for this gem. Ray Gomez's slick, fluid lead giutar soloing on the manic 4/4 "Mating Drive" is also something for fusion purists to look forward to. Seventies fusion guitar personified here. There is also a ton of keyboard hardware to be heard throughout in the capable hands of David Sancious, Patrick Gleeson, Onaje Allan and Larry Young who even begins to sound like Emerson on "Mating Drive".
One neat thing White did with the original 1976 Atlantic / Nemporer vinyl release of this ambitious project was to write liner notes with brief descriptions about what each track was supposed to reflect musically, even dedicating "The Venusian Summer Suite" to the crew of the Starship Enterprise adding to it's futuristic "progressive" aura.
Cool, esoteric and pure seventies fusion." - ProgArchives