Search - Scott Henderson, Gary Willis, Tribal Tech :: Thick

Scott Henderson, Gary Willis, Tribal Tech
Genres: Jazz, Pop
  •  Track Listings (9) - Disc #1

Led by guitarist Scott Henderson, Tribal Tech have in the past been one of the culprits behind jazz-fusion's image problem, producing music occasionally falling into the "Extremely Complicated Music for Elevators and Super...  more »


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All Artists: Scott Henderson, Gary Willis, Tribal Tech
Title: Thick
Members Wishing: 4
Total Copies: 0
Label: Zebra Records (Wea)
Original Release Date: 3/16/1999
Release Date: 3/16/1999
Genres: Jazz, Pop
Style: Jazz Fusion
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 633014401527, 718750365927

Led by guitarist Scott Henderson, Tribal Tech have in the past been one of the culprits behind jazz-fusion's image problem, producing music occasionally falling into the "Extremely Complicated Music for Elevators and Supermarkets" category. But on Thick the band jettisons the sugar-coating in favor of a more improvisatory approach, and the result is a throwback to days when groups like Weather Report and the Mahavishnu Orchestra first married jazz chops and rock energy. Henderson and bassist Gary Willis, keyboardist Scott Kinsey, and drummer Kirk Covington are all monstrously talented, but that's not the only Tribal Tech attraction. Their group interplay keeps things fresh, from Henderson's wah-wah-fueled Hendrix-ian wail on the title track to the Black Sabbath-like crunch of "What Has He Had?" to the darkly evocative ballad "You May Remember Me" (dedicated to the late comedian Phil Hartmann). Some surprising extras, like the slide guitar melody on "Somewhat Later" and some bizarre studio experimentation on a hidden bonus track, make things even spicier. Tribal Tech have always been talented enough to make music that's almost too complex, but on Thick their energy is infectious enough to grab anyone. --Ezra Gale

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CD Reviews

Give it a few listens
David Starns | South Louisiana, a stone's throw from the swamp | 04/12/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"OK, so the first time I heard "Thick" I thought it sounded like jammed
out takes from the last 3 Henderson/Willis & co.'s CD's. I hadn't read
anything about the album being "more improvised"; in fact, I didn't
even know it was coming out and just stumbled across it in a record
store (can I admit that I bought it at a store?). But though on first
listen it was easy to yearn for the angular-but-memorable melodies on
"Face First" or "Illicit," the more I listen to this CD, the more I
realize that this is the essence of what Tribal Tech is all about:
incredibly sympathetic interplay, at a level one generally expects
only of be-bop giants (Miles, Coltrane, Rollins, et al): the kind that
requires of its players the deepest, most empathetic degree of
listening and turn-on-a-dime, almost offhand instrumental virtuosity.
Excepting the fact that from a "formal" and harmonic standpoint this
music charges beyond the parameters of bebop, it's really more like
the classic albums of the 50's and 60's; this record is the
electrified "fusion" equivalent of "Kind of Blue" or Lucky Thompson's
"Trichrotism" or one of Coltrane's early "free" records.
Twenty five years ago, groups like Return to Forever, The Dixie Dregs and
Larry Coryell's Eleventh House blew me away by playing lines in unison that
I couldn't even hope to play by myself at half the speed. Fusion was
exhilarating back then, because it was charging into new territory--they
were playing things in a way no one had before. Yes, the music was
"arranged," but only in the sense that the big band records of the 40's
were arranged: it was extremely complicated music presented as an extension
of a "personality," with a unified, pre-planned approach (in this sense,
you might think of Chick Corea or John McLaughlin, or even Frank Zappa as
the 70's equivalents of Ellington or Gershwin). Think about it, though: jazz
didn't stay where it was. By the early 60's the music had matured beyond
the limited paradigm of big band charts into an area where musical
interplay and individual expression were the ultimate criteria. I would
argue that fusion has followed a similar progression, and that CD's like
"Thick" are the next step in fusion's evolution.
Of course, it hasn't been a smooth upward road. Lots of fusion fans
(me included, I'll admit) complained that fusion began to suck in the
80's because it got too "sweet:" that guys like Earl Klugh and Kenny
G, and groups like the Rippingtons and Spirogyra turned it into little
more that elevator music for yuppies (just as big band music, with
notable exceptions, eventually devolved into Lawrence Welk). But
though it sells just fine, when you think about it, much of what's
being called "fusion" is really little more than a chops-intensive
offshoot of late 70's R&B; it's a whole different idiom. Boney James
isn't playing fusion: he isn't the guy we should be complaining about.
The real "fusion hacks" mucking up the genre are the self-conscious
"shredders" still doing rote worship at the altar of technique (I hate
to name names, but has anyone out there heard Bunny Brunell's "LA
Zoo?"). Where's the adventure? The growth? The risks? Guess what?
The adventure is right here, on this CD. This is the next evolutionary
step in the world of electric jazz. Like the best Bebop of the mid
50's, it's deep, and mature, and youthfully audacious all at the same
time (and if you think about it, Bird, Monk and Diz took quite a bit
of similar flak from the jazz faithful when they pioneered
the"dangerously non-melodic" form of bebop way back when). So yes, I
would agree with some of the other reviewers that
compositionally-speaking, "Thick" isn't as carefully crafted
as other TT albums, but compositional craft isn't what this music is
about. Does a piece of music need a pre-written, slaved-over melody in
order to be "catchy" This music doesn't have any, but I
still can't get it out of my CD player. "Thick" is just
about as "catchy"as jazz gets for me."
Fusion meltdown
Jan P. Dennis | Monument, CO USA | 05/29/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"When Tribal Tech, probably the greatest fusion band of all time, decided to record a disc of in-studio improvisations, it set the industry--not to mention their fan base--on their collective backsides.Many have still not recovered (see the clueless negative reviews).Their loss.Anyone, it seems to me, with ears even slightly open, should rejoice, exult, turn back flips in the presence of this altogether astounding music.For one thing, this is the obvious forerunner of John Scofield's brilliant fusion discs. For another, it proves that Scott Kinsey (keys) is a player of huge consequence. Gary Willis does nothing but solidify his standing as among the absolute greatest e-bassists of all time. And Kirk Covington grounds the proceedings in rock-solid and brilliantly imaginative percussive moves.Of Scott Henderson, little need be said, except that here, stripped down from some of the guitar gimmickry and wizardry that characterized Illicit and Reality Check, he perhaps casts an even longer shadow both in terms of his monster chops and his wacky tonal sensibility, fully on display, e.g., on the title cut. Maybe it's just perversity on my part, by I'm entirely taken by the bizarro vibe of "Clinic Troll." Maybe I've spent too much time in SoCal; maybe I'm just terminally weird--I don't know. But I'm totally down with what's happening on this number. If fact, I'm pretty much just blown away by the easy, laconic, off-the-cuff supercharged vibe happening here.Spooky, noir, scarily dazzling, this is among the finest discs I own."
What a ride!
C. Hoag | Los Angeles, CA | 11/29/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Okay. . .this is my first review ever. What brought me out of my cave? I just got this cd and I HAD to put my two cents in. This is a GREAT cd. Very exciting and exploratory. Very listenable. I'm not really a fan of extremely obtuse or experimental jazz where you're just sitting there desperately trying to find some bit of melody or harmony to hang your hat on. I like tonal and atonal music. But I'd say my favorite is somewhere in the middle. And these gentlemen have a wonderful way of dancing around that tonal center. Flying out to the edges of harmonic perception and just when you think they're about to go too far, they swoop back into some exquisitely tasteful and grounding stroke of instrumental genius. And to me, the most important thing to state about this album, and something I believe hasn't been mentioned, this album GROOVES. I consistently found myself tapping my fingers or my feet or bouncing my head up and down to the infectiousness of the rhythm here. The album is in no way "one-note". There's a lot of variety here. Open your ears and give this a shot. You won't be disappointed by the musicality and cohesiveness of this band!"