Tribal Tech: The Big Wave


The Big Wave


Tribal Tech


Illicit (BlueMoon R2 79180)

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Scott Henderson (guitar), Gary Willis (bass),

Scott Kinsey (keyboards), Kirk Covington (drums)


Composed by Gary Willis


Recorded: Hollywood, CA, April 1992


Rating: 89/100 (learn more)

The short introductory section for Tribal Tech's "The Big Wave" is a joke. At least I hope so! It is about 20 seconds of the most syrupy, gag-inducing Smooth Jazz crap you will ever hear. Every time I play the tune I look at my computer to make sure I have the right CD in. As parody, it is a brilliant re-creation of the Smooth Jazz (sudden reflux urge) WAVE radio format that began in the 1980s in Southern California and soon took over the world. I have no inside info on this, but I believe the song title may refer to this awful format.

Tribal Tech obliterates its own introductory passage with the sonic equivalent of a jet plane takeoff. The band gets to serious fusion real fast. Sounding like Weather Report played at 45 rpm, the band's tight and powerful synchronicity provides the perfect entry point for Scott Henderson's squealing guitar attack. "The Big Wave's" composer, bassist Gary Willis, is never too far away to be heard. His own solo is more introspective than Henderson's. Keyboardist Scott Kinsey has a full sound that becomes even deeper and fuller as the piece moves along. Henderson and Willis play a unison riff as drummer Kirk Covington takes his turn. That sped-up Weather Report vibe returns to end the wave.

The '80s may have been a somewhat fallow fusion period. But starting in that decade and continuing into the next two, Tribal Tech has been one of the genre's most reliable outfits.

Reviewer: Walter Kolosky

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