90

Gary Willis: Gary Willis

Ed Kopp By

Sign in to view read count
Tribal Tech co-founder Gary Willis garnered widespread critical acclaim for his 1996 solo debut No Sweat, a release that I found easy to admire but hard to love. I've grown to love Bent, the second solo effort from the talented Texas bassist. Willis takes groove music to another level on this funky and intricate CD.

Bent is a bit less dissonant and far more vigorous than its predecessor. Nine of these 11 tracks feature fat funky bottoms, hard-bopping tops, percolating polyrhythms, and inspired improvisations.

From the quirky racing bop of "Armageddon Blues" to the industrial funk of "Bent" to the sinuous grooves of "Bowlegged," these tunes slip and slide, move and groove. Moreover, Willis coaxes some great performances out of saxophonist Steve Tavaglione, drummer Dennis Chambers and keyboardist Scott Kinsey. Kinsey's electric keyboard work is especially inventive, and there's a tangible chemistry between all of these players. Tenor saxman Bob Berg also appears on three cuts, while drummer Kirk Covington plays on two.

At times the vibe reminds me of Miles Davis' Decoy, my favorite of the trumpet master's 1980s releases. Willis doesn't employ a trumpeter, but Tavaglione's EWI sounds like a muted bugle on the slithering "Hipmotize" and the smoldering "Cadillac," two tracks that are most reminiscent of the electric Miles. Tavaglione's turns his EWI into a harmonica on the surprisingly melodic "Its Only Music" and the tropical "Emancipation."

Bent is contorted improvisational music that's high-tech but full of life, and Willis' bass work is extraordinary throughout. Gary Willis is a very clever composer who's taking electric jazz to new places.

Shop

More Articles

Read Akua's Dance CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Daylight Ghosts CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Live at PafA CD/LP/Track Review Live at PafA
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Ocean of Storms CD/LP/Track Review Ocean of Storms
by Troy Dostert
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Transparent Water CD/LP/Track Review Transparent Water
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Billows Of Blue CD/LP/Track Review Billows Of Blue
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 20, 2017
Read "Jailhouse Doc With Holes In Her Socks" CD/LP/Track Review Jailhouse Doc With Holes In Her Socks
by Jerome Wilson
Published: September 24, 2016
Read "Groovin'" CD/LP/Track Review Groovin'
by Jeff Winbush
Published: November 2, 2016
Read "Duo" CD/LP/Track Review Duo
by Budd Kopman
Published: October 27, 2016
Read "ReNew" CD/LP/Track Review ReNew
by James Nadal
Published: March 27, 2016
Read "Sharpener" CD/LP/Track Review Sharpener
by Nick Davies
Published: December 21, 2016
Read "Obnoxius" CD/LP/Track Review Obnoxius
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: November 20, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!