|AMG Review by Bill Meredith (4):
Although it was their sixth album overall, Tribal Tech's 1993 release, Face First, was only the second to feature the still-existing lineup of guitarist Scott Henderson, bassist Gary Willis, keyboardist Scott Kinsey, and drummer Kirk Covington. Previously, Henderson and Willis had juggled lineups and eased further away from traditional jazz toward improvisational fusion through the 1985-1991 albums Spears, Dr. Hee, Nomad, and Tribal Tech. But the quartet of musical leftists gelled on Face First, improving on its promising 1992 debut, Illicit. Henderson's solo on the opening title track — over a percolating Willis bass line — shows the guitarist's range of influences from Jeff Beck and Jimi Hendrix to Albert King and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Funk pieces like "Canine" and "Uh...Yeah OK" show glimpses of the group's future, all-improvised CDs; hummingbird-quick drummer Covington's lead vocal on the cover-band farce "Boat Gig" set the stage for Henderson"'s solo blues debut the next year. In between, synth-master Kinsey's jazzy "After Hours" and Henderson's New Orleans-tinged "Revenge Stew" provide thought-provoking rest areas — necessary because of breathtaking ten-minute thrill rides like the blues, bop, and beyond of "Salt Lick." Willis' Weather Report-like "The Precipice" and "Wounded" ease you to the finish of Face First, the album that made a statement that Henderson, Willis, and company have not yet begun to finish.
Guitarist Scott Henderson and bassist Gary Willis, known as Tribal Tech (the renegade rock/jazz/fusion warriors) are back with the release of their 1993 album, entitled Face First. Equally adapt at recalling Miles Davis and Jimi Hendrix, the band successfully bridges the gap between jazz and rock, blending elements of entities such as Weather Report, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Frank Zappa and Return To Forever, while simultaneously expanding the dimensions of jazz. Scott Henderson (also known for his work with the Chick Corea Elektric Band and The Zawinul Syndicate) is generally admired as one of the most exciting fusion guitarists in the world today. Gary Willis first made a name for himself in the bands of Wayne Shorter and Allan Holdsworth. Incredibly tasteful phrasing and standout guitar playing dominate Face First, and interestingly, in a somewhat bizarre move, the band dedicated the song "Boat Gig" to Stevie Ray Vaughan and Albert King.