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Tribal Tech: Thick

AAJ Staff By

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Scott Henderson is a benchmark in the jazz fusion guitar world. He can just as easily lay down a mean blues lick or rock you hard burning the frets like a wildman. Standing shoulder-to-shoulder we have the creative genius and frenetic bounce of Gary Willis on bass with Scott Kinsey's inventive keyboards magic. Confidently, Kirk Covington pulls a polyrhythmic mixer out and drums away any doubts you may have about the power and grace of Tribal Tech. These guys are always a fun ride with novel compositions and improvs that never cease to surprise the listener.

A solid foundation of great jazz is obvious in Tribal Tech. You will clearly pick out strains of Chick Corea and Weather Report in all their releases. This band is never afraid to stretch, to totter along the edge, to wander into bizarre fugues, and then come rushing back at ya, head-on, 90 mph, with tight, intricate, jazz fusion solidity. Dynamic is the word here.

And now with Thick they have gone a step further and decided to abandon the charts, the maps, and the guidelines. This is their chance to have a good time, to do what musicians enjoy most — to spontaneously create in 100% freedom, seizing the moment, to let the chemistry of who they are come through. Thick is essentially an in-studio jam session where four skilled guys let it all hang out.

It is a treat to experience such an endeavor, even secondhand, through a recording. My hat is off to Tribal Tech for having the courage to offer themselves to us like this. I have followed Henderson et al since the Corea days to the Nomad release, into Reality Check , and elsewhere. You will find traces of Tribal Tech's whole sonic spectrum in Thick.

A couple short tracks are laidback with a "just goofin' around" quality but the predominant weight of this release has things going on that are downright awesome. Henderson has so many extended fiery solos you'd think a Hendrixian "Machine Gun" had jammed. On the 11:15, title track, you'll hear JIMI, Jeff Beck, SRV, and even a titch of Steve Vai's wah-wah, orgiastic abandon. I swear Kinsey sounded like Jan Hammer on "Sheik of Encino" but evoked that Weather Report Zawinul moreso elsewhere. An abundance of great keys is interlaced everywhere in Thick. Willis is, of course, bass-ic perfection and inspiration. Check Willis out on "Slick" and "What Has He Had?" Whew! Covington drums his way around all the Thick ness with ease and enduring strength. Nuff said.

Jazz rock fusion, blues rock, jazz, avant-garde, live jamming fun, high energy, introspection, and freeform phat magic are all resident here. Those of you wanting to hear Henderson "tear it up, stomp it flat, and push it over the edge" will not be disappointed with Thick. I need say no more. It's your turn to check it out. A highly recommended offering. (Mystery track included!)

Track Listing: Sheik of Encino; Party At Kinsey's; Jalapeno; Clinic Troll; Thick; You May Remember Me; Slick; Somewhat Later; What Has he Had?

Personnel: Scott Henderson: guitar, pedals, some delays; Gary Willis: basses, couple of pedals; Scott Kinsey: keyboards; Kirk Covington: drums.

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

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