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Tribal Tech: Rocket Science; (CD, 59:13) Shrapnel Records/ Tone Center TC40132, 2000 Okay, it’s time for me to “coin a phrase”, to pull a genre rabbit outta ma hat, and try to pin this T Tech release down, (tho’ it be a’rigglin’ madly), and be done with this weirdling of jazz-ish fusionid birthings. Hunh? Henderson et al have gone off da deep end on dis one folks. It is so full of whacko riffs and bizarro moments that you would think T Tech hath gone mad. But herein lieth genius . . . Ah yes, that moniker I was seeking, hmm . . . let’s try funk-bop- cubist-surrealoid-jazz-rock-blues-world-fusion, or FBCSJRBWF. You catch my drift? T Tech has stretched out into netherworlds of jazz and fusion that seem a hard pill to swallow in a first listen, nearly grating at times -- a gut-wrenching challenge. I still can’t decide if I like this release as it makes me feel different each listen. Technical prowess is there, utter uniqueness, and serious quirkville as well. So is this an enjoyable listen for most jazzers? Probably not -- oops, I said it. What I mean is, you need to be in a certain mood to dig this trip. Imagine Weather Report on steroids running a smooth jazz tour bus off the road then careening into the Jimi Hendrix alternate universe wormhole and Henderson and Hendrix trade riffology but 22nd century style. Hunh? I dunno, this CD is one heck of a ride folks -- ergo my mental gymnastics. I can hear Miles whispering hoarsely from the other side in T Tech’s ear, “Go deeper, get out there.” Then Jaco mumbles, “Gary, reach for the funk slide avalanche.” Jimi screams, “Burn it up Scott!” And Joe Z seems to soul travelin’ into Kinsey’s keys. God help poor Kirk doing his level best to interpret this madness! If you need funk, bop, surrealism in sound, rock fusion jamz, and effects too many to list, where mutation of sound is your norm, then per your therapist’s orders -- grab this release. If however you lean towards the straight and narrow in jazz, rock or fusion -- avoid this or you might get a neuronal path or two burned slam out! Ciao baby! (Scott and Scott, you guys are nuts!) ~ John W. Patterson Listen to samples & Buy CDs/DVDs here
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Tribal Tech: Thick (CD, 54:15); Zebra ZD 44015-2, 1999 Zebra Records P.O. Box 9178 Calabasas, CA 91372 Cyberhome: Zebradisc.com 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 Thickness 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!) ~ John W. Patterson
1. Sheik of Encino 2. Party At Kinsey's 3. Jalapeno 4. Clinic Troll . . . 5. Thick 6. You May Remember Me . . . 7. Slick 8. Somewhat Later 9. What Has he Had? . . .
Scott Henderson - guitar, amp, pedal, some delays Gary Willis - a few basses, couple of pedals Scott Kinsey - a plethora of keyboards out the wazoo Kirk Covington - drums and that's about it
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