All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

154

Scott Henderson/Gary Willis/Tribal Tech: Thick

Ed Kopp By

Sign in to view read count
Tribal Tech co-leaders Scott Henderson (guitars) and Gary Willis (bass) sought a new direction with this latest release, the band's ninth. In the past, Henderson and Willis conceived their compositions in advance, then fleshed them out in the studio. This time they entered the studio without any preconceptions and just spent three days jamming and recording. Afterwards the quartet selected the best moments and added a few embellishments.

Thick may be the boldest effort yet from one of the most uncompromising bands in the fusion genre. Don't expect any wimpy made-for-radio melodies from Tribal Tech, because this group lives up to its name. With riotous outbursts of rhythm and energy, the Techsters spawn the jazz equivalent of heavy metal.

Any time musicians of this caliber get together to jam it's bound to be interesting, and except for one annoying cut that's mercifully brief ("Clinic Troll"), Thick should wow most hardcore fusion fanatics. This is an explosive, electrifying collection by Henderson, Willis, Scott Kinsey (keys) and Kirk Covington (drums).

Henderson said his objective with Thick was to create a freer environment for his bandmates. "Joe Zawinul was the first bandleader I played with where things were loose, and he wanted it that way," said Henderson. "You really could jam and just do the things you do. You could own your own parts and play them differently every night if you wanted to. That's a freedom that I never really had as a sideman (with Jean Luc-Ponty and Chick Corea). And I think it's cool as a bandleader to give Scott and Kirk that kind of freedom too, so it makes them really feel like playing. Because what they come up with on their own is ultimately better than anything I could ever write out for them anyway."

Thick opens with a monster cut entitled "Sheik of Encino." This track begins with a Zawinul-like groove, shifts through an eerie interlude, then builds to a hard-rocking climax driven by Covington's high-octane drumming and some exhilarating riffing by Henderson. I also love "Somewhat Later," an all-too-brief track that marries bluesy dobro with an exotic Chinese-like melody.

Other tracks include "Party At Kinsey's," a spacey Afro-funk piece featuring Kinsey's synthesizers. "Jalapeno" is another Weather Report-style groover propelled by Kinsey's electric keyboards and Henderson's zigzagging guitar. The title track is an 11-minute stop-and-go groove thing energized by an incredible screaming solo from Henderson. "You May Remember Me" is an atmospheric piece dedicated to the late comedian Phil Hartman. Lastly, the two leaders trade some nasty licks on the eccentric blues excursion "What Has He Had?"

Thick crackles with edgy improvisations, shifting grooves, bleeping and buzzing electronics, and wildly imaginative solos. It's real team effort, as all four musicians play off of one another. Henderson and Willis continue to showcase their superlative capabilities, and Kinsey is no slouch on keys. Covington really impresses with a frenzied performance on drums.

If you're looking for a laid-back listen with some pleasant melodies, this ain't it. But if you like your fusion very loud, rhythmic and totally uninhibited, Thick is strongly recommended.

Title: Thick | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Zebra Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Live Reviews
Interviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Vibe Station

Vibe Station

Self Produced
2015

buy
HBC

HBC

Tone Center
2012

buy
Live!

Live!

Tone Center
2005

buy
Live

Live

Tone Center
2005

buy
Well to the Bone

Well to the Bone

Blues Bureau International
2003

buy
Well to The Bone

Well to The Bone

Shrapnel Records
2002

buy

Related Articles

Read iQba - Jazz Meets Cuban Timba CD/LP/Track Review
iQba - Jazz Meets Cuban Timba
by Troy Dostert
Published: October 21, 2018
Read Globe Unity - 50 Years CD/LP/Track Review
Globe Unity - 50 Years
by John Sharpe
Published: October 21, 2018
Read Murals CD/LP/Track Review
Murals
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 21, 2018
Read Accelerator CD/LP/Track Review
Accelerator
by Doug Collette
Published: October 21, 2018
Read Little Big CD/LP/Track Review
Little Big
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: October 21, 2018
Read Shades CD/LP/Track Review
Shades
by Doug Collette
Published: October 20, 2018
Read "Desert Pulse" CD/LP/Track Review Desert Pulse
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 30, 2017
Read "The Other Side of Time" CD/LP/Track Review The Other Side of Time
by Kevin Press
Published: January 31, 2018
Read "Back to the Sunset" CD/LP/Track Review Back to the Sunset
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 6, 2018
Read "Penmanship" CD/LP/Track Review Penmanship
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 6, 2018
Read "Come Together" CD/LP/Track Review Come Together
by Geannine Reid
Published: July 30, 2018
Read "Shades" CD/LP/Track Review Shades
by Doug Collette
Published: October 20, 2018