In the last several years, a half dozen or so bands–most recently the Yellowjackets–have entered the Weather Report soundalike derby, attempting to at worst copy, at best re-create that group’s striking and musically adept body of work. (Small wonder: for its mixture of acoustic and electronic sounds, jazz and rock, composition and improvisation, Weather Report was the band of the 80s and wielded an influence commensurate with that epithet.) But my money remains on Tribal Tech, which uses many of Weather Report’s signature sounds and rhythms as the jump-off point for exciting if not strikingly original jazz fusion. Guitarist Scott Henderson brings to the proceedings both an appropriate resume–having worked with Weather Report cofounder Joe Zawinul for several years–and the cardinal virtues of fusion guitar: a liquidy neon tone, slashing technique, and dense melodic lines. (You can see why the guitar freaks love him; Guitar World magazine voted him the best for 1990.) These days, I don’t care to hear a lot of pure jazz fusion. But I like to hear some, and Henderson does a first-rate job of capturing the life force that inhabited the style in the early 70s (before it got so layered over with new-age bubble wrap). In fact, Tribal Tech blasts off with enough conviction to maybe remind you what the big deal was in the first place. Wednesday, Cubby Bear, 1059 W. Addison; 327-1662.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Ed Colver.