Larger Than Life

Larger Than Life

Gary Willis, one of the world’s leading bassists, has delivered his fifth album Larger Than Life—a delicious collection of fusion-funk for the twenty-first century. Joining Willis on this set of twelve tracks are Gergo Borlai on drums, long-time Tribal Tech band mate Scott Kinsey on keyboards, Steve Tavaglione on saxes and EWI, Claudia Bardagí on voice and Llibert Fortuny on tenor sax and voice. At the core of Larger Than Lifeis the trio of Willis, Borlai and Kinsey. Willis and Kinsey have had a great rapport going back to Tribal Tech, the fusion juggernaut that Willis coled with guitarist Scott Henderson, and Willis’ albums No Sweat(1996) and Bent(1998). Willis first met Borlai on a concert in Budapest in 2009. They had so much fun that it planted the seeds for this album, which eventually took root at a recording session at Kinsey’s California studio, followed by more jamming with Borlai in Barcelona. From there, Willis arranged, reassembled, and “reverse engineered” the original tracks into the finished songs heard on this album. The epic title track, for instance, comes from the trio session at Kinsey’s. “It started as an intense 17-minute jam,” says Willis. “then Kinsey edited it down to its current length and I did some more writing to give it substance. Tav added some layering and colors, and Claudia sang the melodies. This all happened while passing the music back and forth from Barcelona to LA, that’s how we make music these days.” Funkiness is never far away when these guys get together, and after the full ensemble wails on “The Professionals,” the trio gets down on Willis’...
Retro

Retro

Retro by Gary Willis Retro Gary Willis Release Year: 2013 Label: Abstract Logix Artists: Gary Willis – bass Gergo Borlai – drums Albert Bover – keyboards   From Abstractlogix: One of the most formidable fretless electric bassists in the post-Jaco Pastorius era, Texas native and current Barcelona resident Gary Willis joins forces with Catalan keyboardist Albert Bover and Budapest-born drummer Gergo Borlai on this exhilarating take on the electric piano trio. Co-founder (with guitarist Scott Henderson) of the premiere fusion band Tribal Tech and former member of Wayne Shorter’s band, Willis and his highly interactive crew shift deftly from slamming funk (“Old School”) to percolating fusion (“Disconnectivity”) to aggressive swingers (“Change Agent,” ”Move”) while embracing quiet ballads (Paul McCandless’ “Amaryllis,” Milton Nascimento’s evocative “Tarde” or Willis’ aptly-titled “Dream”) with uncommon sensitivity and a lyrical touch. They also turn in expressive interpretations of the Lennon-McCartney classic “Norwegian Wood” and Bill Evans’ “We Will Meet Again.” And the album closes on a poignant note with Willis’ tasty, subtly reharmonized rendition of the Depression era standard “For All We Know,” a tune famously covered by the likes of Billie Holiday, Nat King Cole, Nina Simone and Donny Hathaway. From the modal opener “Change Agent” to the bubbling “Old School” (which recalls the old school funk-fusion of Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters) to the atmospheric “Tarde,” these three kindred spirits demonstrate a remarkable capacity to groove in loose-tight fashion throughout Retro. Read more Retro 1. Change Agent             7:20     2. Amaryllis                     7:11     3. Disconnectivity       ...
Actual Fiction

Actual Fiction

As a followup to fiercely uncompromising power trio project, Slaughterhouse 3, bassist extraordinaire Gary Willis delivers a potent punch with Actual Fiction. Joining the world-class electric bassist on this ambitious avant-groove outing is Willis’s longtime bandmate in Tribal Tech, drummer Kirk Covington, along with drummer David Gomez. On frantic romps like the drum ‘n’ bass flavored “Cartoon Fetish” and ultra-funky throwdowns like “Smells Like A Party,” “If Only It Could Talk” and “PodCast,” Willis blends remarkable chops along with an innate ability to groove hard on the low end. His more lyrical side comes across on the beautiful ballad “Say Never,” which showcases his melodically singing style on the fretless electric bass, while the chopsbusting “Eye Candy” stands as his answer to Jaco Pastorius’s anthemic “Teen Town.” The sound collage “Take Me To Your Leader” and the dramatic closer “Based On A True Story” both represent a walk on the more experimental side while “Mean Streak,” powered by Gomez’s aggressive, polyrhythmic attack, is hard-hitting fusion at its most virtuosic. And on “Tio Loco,” Willis reunites with his longtime rhythm tandem partner Covington as they recreate the loose-tight hookup that fueled a dozen Tribal Tech recordings since the 1980s. Now based in Spain, Willis remains one of the premier electric bassists on the international scene. His playing, composing and overall concept on Actual Fiction should elevate him to a new level of appreciation among bass connoisseurs. Bill Milkowski Actual Fiction Gary Willis Release Year: 2007 Label: Abstract...
Bent

Bent

Bent is the second solo disc for the future-bopping co-frontman of cutting edge fusion band Tribal Tech. Willis moves beyond the shred-thud and fast funk of today’s electric bassists. Melding the technology of his custom five-string fretless bass and deep jazz sensibilities, Willis unleashes powerful, supple compositions that absorb the listener. The original ensemble from his first solo disc, No Sweat, is aboard again, including the strong drumming of Dennis Chambers, who alternates here with Tribal Tech drummer Kirk Covington. Soprano and EWI work are still in the hands of Steve Tavaglione, who shares windwork with Bob Berg on tenor. Tribal Tech keyboardist Scott Kinsey carries the torch that Joe Zawinul lit. Indeed, the electro-bopping here stylistically reflects evolutionary Weather Report/Miles fusion. They take it to the fringe on occasion, as in “Armageddon Blues,” but keep it grounded with touches such as Berg’s Eddie Harris-style funk saxing. Tavagliones’s EWI-mimicked chromatic harmonica, Thielemans-style, is especially pleasant on the breezy “It’s Only Music.” Willis’s bass does not dominate as much as intertwine with his compositions, and the stretches where he does solo ripple with imagination. Tribal Tech fans should not be at all concerned at the absence of Scott Henderson’s rampant guitar. The energy level here percolates along quite nicely for all 11 substantial selections. Willis’s understanding of where jazz has been, combined with his very contemporary vision, makes for great music. Tali Madden, CDnow Bent Gary Willis Release Year: 1998...
No Sweat

No Sweat

Willis makes his solo debut with No Sweat (Alchemy ****). Accompanied by keyboardist Scott Kinsey, saxophonist Steve Tavaglione and monster drummer Dennis Chambers, Willis showcases the most facile fretless bass chops since Jaco Pastorius. And he makes his mark as a composer as well with strong pieces like “The Everlasting Night” “Ancient Promise” and the title track. An excellent outing by one of fusion’s finest.” Bill Milkowski No Sweat Gary Willis Release Year: 1997...
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