Thursday, October 25, 2018
Tribal Tech - 1992 "Illicit"
By the time Illicit was released in 1992, Scott Henderson & Tribal Tech (led by Henderson and bassists Gary Willis) had been established as one of the premier, if not the premier, experimental fusion outfits on the globe. That's "fusion" as in the fusion of jazz and rock, not the vanilla instrumental musings of artists like Kenny G, which are occasionally mislabled as such. Henderson's dramatic and powerful soloing and his incredibly refined chord work were the greatest causes for the early attention the group received, and Illicit only furthered the guitarist's reputation with its fire and musical vigor. Henderson's tone is sublime and Holdsworth-ian in its often horn-like quality, and Covington, bassist Gary Willis, and keyboardist Scott Kinsey somehow manage to match Henderson's dynamism and character. "Torque" is Illicit's clear highlight, with its prog rock bombast of power chords topped with angular, classically influenced harmony keyboard and guitar flurries. Experimental and intense, Illicit is as solid an offering as Tribal Tech delivered in the '90s.
"Illicit" was Tribal Tech's 1992 spit-in-the-face to corporate radio and record companies who would have the public believing "light jazz" is really fusion. The opening track, "The Big Wave," is a convincing spoof of a light jazz radio station found in any big city in the United States. The track begins with a cheerily cheesy tune, which sounds like something that might be played on one of the many 'wave' stations. Then the drums increase in tempo and volume until the original melody is obliterated, whereupon the band launches into some very loud, very edgy and highly syncopated playing--the hallmark of Tribal Tech. "Illicit" features two improvisational numbers, "Riot" (named for the L.A. riots happening nearby at that time) and "Aftermath" (also pointing out the riot's devistation). Bottom line--this album sounds like a live-in-the-studio record, with a raw, cutting sound and less slickness in the overall production. Highly recommended to all fusion fans.
This cd in nothing less than amazing. Tribal Tech especially in this line up, is an amazing band. This cd is the first with the line up that personally I find impossible to surpass ... Henderson, Willis, Covington, Kinsey. You can't beat these guys in this sort of music ... that I may call, ... fusion, a word among the most hated for different reasons (I think by the guys themselves). It is fantastic that Illicit begins with few seconds of what people generally tend to think about when the word fusion comes to mind. A sort of mellifluos, ultra sweet, elevator-kennyg type of thing, ... and after those few seconds the band starts an incredible funky fusion groove, "Big vawe" with solos to die for. What you will find in this album is an incredibly tight band, a fantastic unit, scaring musicians that play very forward music. This music isn't for every cat. This music is dense, intense, intelligent ... funny and entertaining. But ... it deserves your attention. Think Weather Report with a boost of ultramodernity, with a guitar instead of a sax and you have the picture. I own all the albums from the band (minus Dr Hee and Spears which are unavailable at this time, ... they appear sometimes on the used market at out of this world prices) and I think this one ranges among the best together with Reality check. I adore this one. It's fusion from outer space. Stellar music from the X men of fusion.
Looking for Kenny G or Bela Fleck? Click to another link - this is cream-of-the-crop Tribal Tech, and it's as liable to burn your ears off as anything else. What is most remarkable about all of Tribal Tech's output is the combination of virtuosity and restraint. They never sound like they're showing off, yet there are plenty of jaw-dropping moments on every disc. This one is no exception, and it's probably the "rawest" sounding of all their catalog. The compositions are complex and versatile, yet tend to easily stick in the mind. The improvisation is sheer brilliance. As usual, they don't take themselves too seriously, infusing plenty of humor in the music, yet the towering composition and even more towering performances command a seriousness of their own. This is a must-own for every guitar or bass player, any fusion fan, and anyone who wants to break out of the rut of contemporary fuzak-jazz. It's albums like these that make Kenny G sound positively wimpy, and the open-minded of the contemporary jazz set might find themselves irrevocably changed. Heaven knows I couldn't listen to that stuff after listening to this.
The album was recorded during the L.A. Riots in April 1992 at Cherokee Studios, Hollywood, California.
01 "The Big Wave" (Gary Willis) – 6:31
02 "Stoopid" (Gary Willis) – 5:47
03 "Black Cherry" (Scott Henderson) – 6:42
04 "Torque" (Scott Henderson) – 6:02
05 "Slidin'" Into Charlisa (Scott Henderson) – 7:32
06 "Root Food" (Scott Henderson) – 8:13
07 "Riot" (Tribal Tech) – 6:58
08 "Paha Sapa" (Gary Willis) – 3:24
09 "Babylon" (Gary Willis) – 5:26
10 "Aftermath" (Tribal Tech) – 7:03
Scott Henderson - guitar
Gary Willis - bass
Scott Kinsey - keyboards
Kirk Covington - drums
Posted by Crimhead420 at 9:47 PM