Ben Tyree/BT3: re:vision (2010)
How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Ben Tyree's compositions on re:vision openly embrace a range of styles in a hard-grooving mixture, where the subtleties of the guitarist's playing are revealed upon repeated listening. Although this is evidently contemporary fusion, Tyree's approach comes from a jazz tradition, stemming from bebop and beyond. It is, however, rock and funk of an altogether more modern hue from which his music takes its wings, the result of a decade honing his sound in New York, surrounded by like-minded musicians.
This is essentially a trio outing, with Theo Hardin and Steve Jenkins sharing bass duties, while bustling drummer Laurence Qualls provides the backbone to the music. A number of guest musicians bring different colors and timbres to three compositions, notably DJ Logic, whose funky urban scratching underpins a simple yet infectious groove on "Because We Can." Tenor saxophonist V. Jeffrey Smith's muscular yet melodious attack provides the heart of the tune, paving the way for Tyree's distorted guitar lines; sounding more like a synthesizer struggling to squeeze through a tight spot, Tyree's playing is both economical and emotive.
The Latin vibe of Tyree's chords on "Telekinesis" evokes Antonio Carlos Jobim's "One Note Samba," though his extended solo takes the tune into overdrive. There's a slow, dub-like groove on the atmospheric "Shapeshifter," which is lent much of its interstellar ambience by John Medeski's spacey Hammond B3 brushstrokes. Bass and drums claw their way to the surface, propelling Tyree to execute a solo which goes way out there; his inner swing and an uninhibited approach which explores the sonic possibilities of his guitar would have made him a great addition to [keyboardist/bandleader] Sun Ra's Arkestra.
Tyree's keen rhythmic sense and harmonically interesting chords prop the funky, jazz-rock of "Dizzle McSizzle," while tenor saxophonist Stacy Dillard unleashes a strong, rippling solo, full of funk and soul; his clean, soaring voice contrasts sharply with Tyree's fuzz-toned lines, and both spare nothing. The trio really rips on "The Roots Run Deep," which allows Harden and Qualls more room to express themselves.
That the melody of "Acquisition" bears resemblance to [saxophonist] Charlie Parker's "Billie's Bounce" may be coincidence, but Tyree's bop-ish runs signal the reach of Parker & Co's revolution sixty-plus years later. The guitarist's skidding, tumbling lines sound, however, freshly minted. A more meditative side to Tyree's trio is heard on "The Search," the minimalism and introspection at the beginning emanating from Tyree's light touch on his strings, and Qualls' cymbals, which resonate like distant waves. The music gradually swells, with loudly rumbling drums, hissing cymbals and Tyree's fuzz-edged fluidity combining like gathering storm clouds.
Tyree's songwriting is to the fore on the final two tracks. "A Song of Hope" is an unhurried, stylish number built upon Tyree's delightful chord progressions, while "Drop Back" is a driving yet more tightly woven trio piece which draws comparison to guitarist Wayne Krantz's trio. Here, Tyree breaks ranks to deliver an energized solo full of purpose, signing off the tune, and a fine album, in spectacular fashion.
Track Listing: Because We Can; Telekinesis; Shapeshifter; Dizzle McSizzle; The Roots Run Deep; Acquisition; The Search; A Song of Hope, Drop Back.
Personnel: Ben Tyree: guitar; Laurence Qualls: drums; Theo Hardin: electric bass (2-4, 6-7); Steven Jenkins: electric bass (1, 5, 8-9); V. Jeffrey Smith: tenor saxophone (1); Stacy Dillard: tenor saxophone (4); DJ Logic: turntables (1); John Medeski: Hammond B3 organ (3).
Record Label: Sonic Architectures