Guitar veteran Scott Henderson has really done it all in a career that spans back to the early '80s. Working with such notable names as Chick Corea and his Elektric Band, violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, Weather Report's Joe Zawinul in the Zawinul Syndicate, Jeff Berlin, and many others, as well as fronting his own hot fusion band Tribal Tech, ensembles Players, Vital Tech Tones, HBC, and a host of solo albums, this is a guitarist that has more than made his mark on the jazz, fusion, and blues scenes over the last 35 years. His latest solo offering, Vibe Station, sees him in a trio with Travis Carlton (bass) and Alan Hertz (drums), delivering 9 instrumental tracks that allow the rhythm section to lock into some serious grooves while Henderson provides for plenty of stunning textures, colors, tones, and emotion.
While he started out as a pure jazz-fusion styled player, Scott has taken on a much more bluesy tone over the last decade or so. Plenty of that blues swagger has remained here, but it's as if the guitarist has really been listening to his classic Jeff Beck records of late, as Vibe Station is littered with adventurous Beck styled explorations. "Church of Xotic Dance" and "Sphinx" both contain explosive burst of metallic chords and wild whammy bar gyrations, while the title track brings the funk and blues in what is ultimately a quirky, fun tune, Carlton popping all sorts of Jaco inspired lead bass lines alongside the guitarist. Hertz' tricky drum fills drive the mysterious "Manic Carpet", filled with Middle Eastern flavors and Henderson's sitar styled guitar solos, while "Calhoun" is one of the albums more emotional, melodic pieces. "The Covered Head" brings the jazz to the forefront, and reminds of some of the classic, darker Tribal Tech material. Scott's solos on this one are lethal, as he hints at David Torn, Bill Frisell, and Terje Rypdal, with jagged shards of off kilter notes, whammy bar theatrics, and blistering runs. The near 9-minute "Festival of Ghosts" takes a more atmospheric approach, allowing for lush chords and yearning notes to create a colorful landscape. "Dew Wut?" is perhaps the most raucous piece on Vibe Station, a sizzling slice of blues rock that sees the guitarist churning out a succession of licks, riffs, and solos alongside Hertz' busy fills and Carlton's slippery grooves. A gentle slice of melodic jazz can be heard on the album closer "Chelsea Bridge", as Henderson channels Wes Montgomery with his sumptuous, liquid guitar lines.
Vibe Station reminds us once again of what an unbelievable talent Scott Henderson truly is. If you haven't yet discovered the genius of this remarkable guitar player, now is the perfect time to do so.
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1. Church Of Xotic Dance
3. Vibe Station
4. Manic Carpet
6. The Covered Head
7. Festival Of Ghosts
8. Dew Wut?
9. Chelsea Bridge