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New Tribal Tech Recording
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Thelonious Beck



Joined: 01 Jun 2011
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2014 11:28 pm    Post subject: New Tribal Tech Recording Reply with quote

I noticed that the personnel for the upcoming Tribal Tech album is different. Were there scheduling conflicts or some other issues with Scott and Kirk? Will this fundamentally change the musical direction of Tribal Tech?
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Scott Henderson
The Man


Joined: 20 May 2004
Posts: 286

PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 3:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, it'll change the direction of the band - that's kinda the point. Willis and I both feel like it's time for a change. Deron Johnson is an incredible player, having worked with Miles and many others. I had the opportunity to play with him and never forgot how inspiring it was. His forte is rhythmic improvisation more than synths. Gergo is one of the baddest drummers ever - period. Look for the band to sound more edgy and raw, and much less like Weather Report.
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Thelonious Beck



Joined: 01 Jun 2011
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 4:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I look forward to that. Tribal Tech needs some more raunch.
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Scott Henderson
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Joined: 20 May 2004
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PostPosted: Sun May 25, 2014 3:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I thought my first answer would be enough, but I guess it wasnít because a lot of people keep asking me why we made a lineup change right after our reunion album. Both Kinsey and Kirk were fired for personal and musical reasons - I don't mind talking about the music, but the other stuff is private. I will say this - it was our agent who had a personal problem with Kirk. Willis and I had completely separate personal problems with Kinsey. Those problems have escalated over the last two years. Itís not like me to bad-mouth good musicians, but in his case Iíll make an exception.

Kirk is an extremely talented musician - fans of his drumming with Tribal Tech may not know that he also plays keyboards. He claims itís his second instrument - in a way, Iíd agree because his drumming is many levels above his keyboard playing, but he knows an incredible number of tunes and can play them in any key. I believe he enjoys playing keyboards and singing more than playing drums in a support role. Kirk has always said that his drumming style is ďexplosiveĒ, and on stage it just gets to be too much for me sometimes. This isnít anything I havenít told Kirk myself. Kirk sounds amazing on our records because he knows the music needs to groove. Gergo Borlai is a different type of player who puts a lot of energy into his grooves and isn't as concerned with fills and reacting to what everyone else is playing. Willis has been wanting to work with him for a long time and thatís the main reason for the change.

Thereís a happy medium between a boring drum machine and a drummer who reacts to what everyone else is playing to the point where the music looses itís feel, and Kirk has demonstrated on every record that heís a bad ass musician who knows where to draw that line. Unfortunately his playing was sometimes dramatically different on stage. We used to kid Kirk about the drummers he hires for his keyboard gigs - every one of them total groove guys with very little chops. Weíd ask, gee Kirk, why donít you ever hire anyone who plays drums like you? Itís always been comedy for us to imagine him split into two people - the keyboard player/singer forced to work with himself on drums. Heíd fire himself in a heartbeat - and even Kirk thinks thatís funny. I'll take some of the blame for Kirk feeling frustrated sometimes - I feel we didn't give him enough solo space. A drummer with those kind of monster chops, who's also used to being more of a front person, should be allowed to show what he can do. The music calls for a more supportive role, and I'm sure that can be frustrating to someone with such a huge vocabulary of ideas. Anyway, Kirk and I are still friends and heís one of the most talented guys Iíve ever worked with.

After Dave Goldblatt left the band, Willis and I were on the fence about hiring Kinsey. Heís a great improviser, and had more cool sounds than anyone else, but also sounded the most like Zawinul. We thought that under our direction he would develop more of his own voice. Unfortunately that never happened. In fact he sounds more like Joe today than when we hired him in 1991. I always hoped Kinsey would eventually have a solo career like many keyboard players his age, and I even agreed to help him by touring with his band for less than a third of what I normally make. All his friends who played on his first record, myself included, did it for free. He made money from the sale of that record, but he didnít pay the musicians back a dime. If it was me, I would have made some kind of affordable payment, even if it was 50 bucks as a gesture of thanks.

I was playing for years in the Zawinul Syndicate, listening to Joe use his vocoder in a way that Iíd never heard anyone else do it. The Prophet 5 was Joeís main voice in Weather Report, but in the Zawinul Syndicate, it became the vocoder. It made me sad to see Kinsey get a vocoder and use it constantly in his own band, copying Joeís voice to the letter. I never let him do it in Tribal Tech, even though he wanted to. Itís like if I went out and bought a voice box and imitated Peter Frampton - everyone would think I was joking. Over the years we had to veto a lot of ďJoe-ismsĒ Kinsey brought to the band, and even though Iíve talked to him about it, I just donít think he cares that he sounds so much like Joe. I wonít mention names, but there are two mega-famous guitar players who didnít hire him for that reason.

Kinsey has always been a huge fan of one chord vamps. I like them too, but not all the time. Iíve seen the audience reaction to a whole night of his ďsongsĒ with no chord changes. Not very well received, and now there isn't an agent on earth who would consider booking one of his projects. I used to bust his balls and say ďyou call this jazz? Stevie Ray Vaughn has more chord changes in his music than you do.Ē For awhile, Kinsey was using the catch phrase ďcomposition is over-ratedĒ on his web site to promote his record. A more honest catch phrase would be ďhard work is over-rated.Ē I'm not saying there isn't an art to creating one chord loops, but I hate them in the context of jazz, especially when they go on and on at one volume level and don't allow the music to have dynamics, or breath. A long time ago I decided not to play in his band anymore, and Iím sure he could tell I wasnít enjoying it. Joe Zawinul was as famous for his amazing compositions as he was for his playing. Being the biggest Joe worshipper ever, Iím not sure I understand Kinseyís disdain for the art of composing. Willis and I wanted X to be a more harmonic album than Thick or Rocket Science, and we put a lot of pressure on Kinsey to help make that happen. Heís the main writer of ďGravityĒ and ďWorking BlueĒ, which shows me that he has the ability to be a composer, but he made it very evident during the making of the album that he doesnít enjoy doing it - heíd rather jam over his one chord loops.

This is sure to piss some people off, but I donít like seeing bands reading charts on stage. I have much more respect for musicians who have the dedication and work ethic to memorize the music than I do for musicians who can read. Kinsey played the last two tours with his face buried in his iPad all night, which totally pissed me off, because the rest of us learned the music. About halfway through our first tour with Kinsey, Willis stole Kinseyís charts and threw them in the trash. Kinsey made it through the next night, but Iím positive that it was the first time heíd ever played on stage without reading. Twenty five years later and he still has to read to play a gig, even on songs heís played a hundred times. As much as I think thereís a value in learning to read, I also think thereís a huge problem with musicians who arenít able to pull themselves away from the page. Iím not going to mention the name of a famous bass player who I worked with - we were on stage playing a regular 1-4-5 blues and I looked over at him and saw he was reading a chart. It was just too funny. (no, itís not Jeff Berlin!)

Kinsey is now playing in the Zawinul Legacy Band, no doubt reading charts. I love Joe's music and I've covered some of his tunes myself on our HBC record and tours. (we memorized the songs) Since Joe isnít around anymore, a tribute band put together by his son is a nice gesture, and itís not quite the same as an AC/DC tribute band since those guys are alive and well. In the context of the Legacy Band, I guess it's Kinsey's job to imitate Joe while playing his music. Itís the perfect gig for him. As for me, Iím tired of Weather Report being brought up in Tribal Tech album reviews, but it was stupid of me not to realize that the keyboard style and sounds were bound to draw comparisons. Jaco may have influenced Willis to pick up a fretless bass, but Willis sounds like Willis, period. I'm very much looking forward to working with Deron Johnson. He sounds like Deron Johnson.

Regardless of what Iíve said about Kirkís live drumming and Kinseyís identity crisis, theyíre both great players and I think we made some cool music together. I hope the band finds more of itís own identity on the next record.


Last edited by Scott Henderson on Sat Jun 14, 2014 2:00 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Red Suede



Joined: 12 Jul 2005
Posts: 12

PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2014 6:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nuff said. Thanks, Scott.....
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Sam Yoon



Joined: 04 Jun 2014
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Mon Jun 09, 2014 9:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have the Kinesthetics album, and I notice that you play on the only song with chord changes. Was that intentional?
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Scott Henderson
The Man


Joined: 20 May 2004
Posts: 286

PostPosted: Sun Jun 15, 2014 2:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

He probably knew Iíd enjoy playing on that one more than the others, but I was disappointed in the track because the drummer is overplaying to the point where itís ridiculous and the groove sucks. I turned the drums off when I was overdubbing and played to the click, with a percussion loop I added to make the click more musical. No way did I want to play over that drum track.

Gary Novak played drums on the road - too bad he didnít play that song on the record, or it would have grooved. Thereís another song called Jinshi which has a nice melody and changes, but nothing else on the record comes even close to the level of those two songs from a composing standpoint. Playing wise itís a good record - anything Steve Tavaglione plays on is worth hearing. Heís one of the few improvisers I know who can be forever interesting over a one chord vamp.

Iíve said that I didnít enjoy playing Kinseyís music, but the exception was when Matt Garrison was on bass. Not that Jimmy Earl isnít a great bass player, but he played the music as written. Matt took it upon himself to improve the music, which he did by shifting into different keys when he felt it was getting boring. Only the bass player has the ability to make such a noticeable difference, and Matt has a great sense of harmony - with him in the band, sometimes it felt like we were playing real songs instead of one chord vamps.
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fusion58



Joined: 17 May 2004
Posts: 83
Location: Bangkok

PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2014 1:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Scott Henderson wrote:
Itís like if I went out and bought a voice box and imitated Peter Frampton - everyone would think I was joking.


At the risk of going off on a really egregious tangent, were you a fan?

The dude was my hero when he was in Humble Pie and I was 12 or 13 years old and just starting out on guitar.
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Scott Henderson
The Man


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2014 6:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Absolutely I was a fan! In fact I feel guilty for never bringing up his name before. I loved Humble Pie, and Peter's thing with the voice box was truly innovative. No other guitar player has ever copied it, because everyone would just say "Peter Frampton". Exactly like anyone who hears Kinsey use his vocoder would say "Joe Zawinul".
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fusion58



Joined: 17 May 2004
Posts: 83
Location: Bangkok

PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2014 6:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Scott Henderson wrote:
Absolutely I was a fan! In fact I feel guilty for never bringing up his name before. I loved Humble Pie, and Peter's thing with the voice box was truly innovative. No other guitar player has ever copied it, because everyone would just say "Peter Frampton". Exactly like anyone who hears Kinsey use his vocoder would say "Joe Zawinul".



Interesting historical tidbit regarding the talk box: Joe Walsh once stated in an interview (not sure if he was being facetious or not) that he introduced Frampton to the talk box and that Frampton never thanked him.

In any event, Frampton might not have been the first guy to use the voice box, (IIRC, Stevie Wonder and Jeff Beck used the effect earlier) but he certainly expanded the possibilities exponentially.
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Scott Henderson
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2014 10:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cool! Didn't know that.
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Sam Yoon



Joined: 04 Jun 2014
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2014 2:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Did you always have problems working with keyboard players, even early in your career?
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Scott Henderson
The Man


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2014 3:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The short answer would be yes. However, great keyboard players like the ones Iíve played with are incredible musicians and inspiring to listen to, no matter what problems Iíve had with them.

Every situation is different. Chick Corea is one of the baddest pianists on the planet and everyone knows that. We didnít get along on a personal level, which has been discussed to death, but I couldíve overlooked that if the musical situation was good. Like many keyboard players, he apparently looks at the guitar as a single note instrument and I never got to play chords. When I asked him if I could comp for a few of the bass solos, he said ďleave the comping to meĒ, which I found insulting. I should have known that the gig was gonna be weird when I received the Silver Temple track to play on. The comping on my solo section was already recorded! So I had to overdub a solo around his comping - that shouldíve been the other way around. It just got weirder and weirder as the gig went onÖ

Joe Zawinul let me play chords a lot, and liked my comping when he played his ďPepeĒ instrument, which was sort of like a horn. He also ran his band in a much more democratic way, and often took suggestions from his band members, which is the opposite of how Chick worked. Joe also comped his ass off for my solos and made me sound better than I actually am. My only problem with Joe came much later, years after I left the band. His guitar player couldnít make a short tour, so I was asked to sub. By that time, Joe wasnít playing jazz anymore, and guitar solos just didnít fit the music. Instead, I was asked to be a melodic conga player all night. It fit the music, but it was a total drag to do. Even though I enjoyed seeing the Zawinul Syndicate after I left the band, I always felt sorry for the guitar player, who was put into the role of a human sequencer.

Kinsey is a great player, and we played well together on Stella By Starlight on the Reality Check album, and Palm Moon Plaza on the X album. Every record has great moments of interaction between us. Unfortunately on stage, too many times to count, I played phrases at him and was completely ignored. Other musicians who play with him complain about it too. Itís weird, because he doesnít play that way at all in the studio. By ignoring me, he often made me feel like he didnít like my playing very much, whether thatís actually true or not. We had some great nights on stage when we were really listening to each other like in the studio, but those nights were rare.

Part of the problem was sound related - we played a lot of very boomy, unmusical sounding rooms - itís difficult to play interactive music when the sound isnít clear, but it was actually our own fault for playing too loud - the boomier the room, the softer you should play. Thatís a lesson Tribal Tech never learned, and I consider it to be the bandís biggest failure. Iíd be rich if I had a nickel for every night we collectively said fuck it and just barreled through the music because we thought the sound sucked, instead of simply turning down and having a musical gig. Iíve had many more musical nights with HBC and my trio, because those bands know how to adjust to a room. Most drummers put their drums in their own monitor to hear themselves if the music around them is too loud. Dennis Chambers and Alan Hertz never do that - if they canít hear themselves, it means weíre playing too loud and need to turn down. I believe thatís one of the main reasons why my trio and HBC have enjoyed a much higher success rate on stage than Tribal Tech ever did.

When I played with Deron Johnson, with Gary Novak on drums and Dave Carpenter on bass, I was really amazed by how much space Deron left for me, and how supportive and interactive he was. If the situation with Tribal Tech was more practical, I have no doubt that Deron and Gergo would have been killing.
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pbognar



Joined: 25 May 2004
Posts: 6
Location: Milwaukee, WI

PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2014 11:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry to hear about Tribal Tech. On the face of it, it could be seen as sad, but reading your posts sheds an incredible amount of light on things, to the point of it being a logical decision.

I dig all your CC, Joe, and TT posts. It's revealing, hilarious, and no BS.

"leave the comping to me" - bwahahaha !!!

I stopped by here because of Dennis Chambers, but you're posts made me laugh out loud. Just what I needed.

I do hope you don't totally abandon the idea of including the right keyboardist in the future - I do love the colors and and the things which can only be played on keyboards. Plus it's nice to have the changes going under your solos.

I wish you all the best - please come to Milwaukee sometime.
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Scott Henderson
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2014 4:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks - I agree that there are some limitations to playing without keyboards, but having spent a lot of my career being bossed around or ignored by keyboard players, I'm happy to play trio. Sometimes I like to hear chords behind solos too - on my new record I'll do some comp overdubs for tunes with changes.

Of all the keyboard players I've made music with, Joe Zawinul was by far the best composer, most melodic improviser, and most fun to work with. I consider myself lucky to have had the honor of playing in his band.

About Dennis, see that post for more news.
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