Subtropical Spin

Live! (Tone Center)

West Palm Beach émigré Scott Henderson honed his electric-guitar acumen playing alongside iconic jazz keyboard aces Joe Zawinul and Chick Corea. Like fellow fusioner Robben Ford before him, he stylistically transitioned from electric jazz to electric blues. Henderson, however, brings along many tricks of his previous trade — although Live! is framed around unreserved, amped-up blues rock, his solos have an invigoratingly mercurial quality. The rest of Henderson's band — drummer/singer Kirk Covington and bassist John Humphrey — keeps things grounded with assertive vigor, and Henderson's solos dispense with hammy scales-playing, preferring to soar and sear passionately with unpredictable, occasionally dissonant, always-focused improvisations. He tips his hat to Wayne Shorter by covering the saxophonist's "Fee Fi Fo Fum" and even alludes to some country-music influence with "Hillbilly in the Band." Covington's singing makes up in spirit what it lacks in distinction, but make no mistake: Live!, recorded at a small, Los Angeles-area club, is Henderson's show, and a must for guitarcentric eclectics. This local lad has indeed made good.

 
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