Guitarist Scott Henderson moved from his native South Florida to Los Angeles in 1980, and formed the group Tribal Tech in the mid-'80s with bassist Gary Willis. Their jazz fusion output grew increasingly harder-edged, especially with the additions of keyboardist Scott Kinsey and drummer Kirk Covington in the early '90s, but Henderson still had a restless need to experiment. Solo blues CDs Dog Party (1994) and Tore Down House (1997) satisfied his fascination with Stevie Ray Vaughan and Albert King; all-improvisational Tribal Tech discs Thick (1999) and Rocket Science (2000) showed that this supremely talented band didn't need to write in order to record. But Henderson still wanted to blend his love for improvisation with rock influences Jimi Hendrix and Jeff Beck into a format outside of Tribal Tech, so he formed a trio in 1998 called Vital Tech Tones. Also featuring Steve Smith (former drummer for rock band Journey and leader of the group Vital Information) and Victor Wooten (bassist for Bela Fleck & the Flecktones) Vital Tech Tones took their name by using a portion of each of the three principals' primary acts.
Superlocrian, otherwise known as Diminished Whole-Tone scale, or Altered scale is the 7th mode of Melodic Minor. The Superlocrian mode is used a lot in jazz and fusion music by players like Mike Stern, Scott Henderson and Robben Ford. It has a very unusual construction as all of the intervals are flat: 1-b2-b3-b4-b5- b6-b7. So you could find the positions on the fretboard by playing a Major scale shape and moving the root notes up one fret.
The only thing you know you can expect is virtuoso playing from these guys, of course. After that, Xsees the band playing around with song structures. Apparently, in 2010 they recorded most of therough tracks for this album, lots of improvisation and so on. Then they spent the year and halfbefore this album came out adding overdubs and structuring the jams, making much of this music seemcomposed; and in a way it is.What I also like about this album is the "usual fusion" sound is gone, you know, that late 80s/early90s fusion sound, like Chick Corea Elektric Band, Dave Weckl Band, or Zawinul Syndicate (minus theworld fusion aspect); THAT sound. It's gone here. And it's good, because otherwise it would datethis record horribly. No, the band is trying new things on this album. A little electronic beatshere and there, different keyboard sounds, etc. This record is more earthly. There are moments ofintense electric post-bop, some more soulful, contemplative playing by Scott Henderson, and avariety of other different moods.It's not the most progressive album, but it's a fun record, and one of the more original albums bythe band. And it's nice to see Tribal Tech not stuck in the same sound, experimenting with differentthings.A pretty good fusion album. If you like modern fusion, you'll probably enjoy this. If you're aTribal Tech fan, you'll enjoy the different feel this album has. social review comments | Review PermalinkPosted Thursday, July 5, 2012 | Review this album | Report (Review #782243)
I will begin by saying that I am not a big fan of the blues. I have a low tolerance level forrepetitive lines, licks and chord progressions that have been heard ten thousand times before.However, this is one of those exceptions where the playing, although grounded in blues andjazz-blues, is so outstanding that it raises the bar beyond most anything that's being done today.If you need structure, themes, choruses and predictability in your music, then this album is not foryou. But if you'd like to challenge yourself and taste and absolute masterpiece of jazz and bluesimprovisation then I highly encourage you to buy this album and listen to it carefully. Theinterplay between the musicians and their ability to accent and highlight each others' lines arereminiscent of classics like Miles' Bitches Brew and Herbie's Crossings and other "ambient jazzfusion" records from the early 1970s.What differentiates this TT record from the aforementioned is the guitar, which was mostlynon-existent on those 70s sessions. On Thick you have Scott Henderson on guitar, displaying a blendof virtuosity, inventiveness and inspiration seldom heard in today's overly abundant power-chord andshred-heavy affairs.Thick is one of those rare records that's able to get nasty, heavy, electric and downrightmind-blowing technical, yet retain an organic feel throughout its entirety. The title track has tobe one of the best examples of cosmic blues guitar I have ever heard with a slow ambient build-upthat climaxes on one of THE BEST solos I have ever heard. I am big fan of using wah pedalstastefully, to add emotion and tension, and Scott raises the bar on wah soloing to unprecedentedheights. (If you're a tone junkie, then you will get your fix with Thick. Henderson's tone is so THICK,creamy, soulful, clean yet dirty, and able to pierce through the mix without sounding overbearing;not an easy thing to do in the studio).Yes, there are other musicians on this record aside from Scott; even though the guitarist steals thespotlight. The rest of the band is amazing, as well, and maintains an airy, spacey foundationwithout losing the groove; and there are plenty of grooves. But, the grooves never last too long forthe music to get repetitive or boring. First and foremost this a jazz record and the accompanimentadheres to that premise.On the track What Has He Had the band goes into a King Crimson-like drum and bass syncopation thatends with voices laughing and clapping behind dissonance and chaos. An absolute surprise, yetseamlessly fitting right in with everything else on the record.Sheik Of Encino starts out sounding a lot like the smoother jazz fusion of the late 80s and ends uprising to a frenzy worthy of challenging the very best of Weather Report or the Mahvishnu Orchestra.Of course, to keep up with the overall theme of the record, there is an obligatory ambient sectionin the middle with some keyboards and cymbal work that doesn't disappoint. In conclusion, this is easily a five star recording, but not of "progressive rock music", but ofambient-jazz-blues-rock-fusion. A masterpiece is a masterpiece and it doesn't have to beAnglo-European-classically influenced for it to be considered "essential"; nor does it have to havea story line like The Lamb on Broadway for it to be deep and thoughtful. If you're ready to step out of your comfort zone and take a break from the predictable metal powerchords or the old and tired symphonic prog, Thick presents and opportunity to engage some of THEBEST improvised jazz-rock that you will ever find.FIVE STARS for Thick. social review comments | Review PermalinkPosted Tuesday, June 12, 2012 | Review this album | Report (Review #769725)
This album is fully improvisational jam played by very technical musicians. Even if pure-electric and very energetic, you can easily feel their jazz-roots. Guitar solos are based in Holdsworth tradition, rich bass is often very funky. All music sound technically very strong, any listener will be attracted excellent interplays. The main this album's problem is composition. Being a great musicians in sense of improv technique and musicianship, the band recorded unfocused jam, which hardly can attract regular listener for repeating listening. Electric fusion fans could be more interested however. Still really strong album, around 3,5. social review comments | Review PermalinkPosted Tuesday, January 19, 2010 | Review this album | Report (Review #261544) 2b1af7f3a8