Ben Tyree/BT3 – re:Vision (2010)

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A couple of years back while covering a record by the whack jazz-funk-rock big band Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber I picked out Living Colour’s Vernon Reid’s contributions to the collective, but he wasn’t the only guitarist on there. Ben Tyree was also on that record. Like Reid, Tyree doesn’t settle for the middle of the road stuff, he starts with massive technical ability, a driving rock clamor and a great sense of funk, deploying all this to more challenging, complex settings. For a frame of reference, see Noy, Oz. Sometimes, though, such a musician needs a vehicle to achieve this and in 2009, Tyree created his: a trio named BT3. With Theo Hardin (bass) and Laurence Qualls (drums) as the regular rhythm section, Tyree made a record of all original material last year and before the year was up, re:Vision was unleashed to the masses.

This ain’t no straight trio record through and through, though. Tyree brought in some guest artists, including saxes by V. Jeffry Smith and Stacy Dillard, an alternate bassist in Steve Jenkins, turntables by DJ Logic and a B3 organ by John Medeski. The cameos work well: DJ Logic’s scratching turns up the fun quotient on “Because We Can,” as Smith’s tenor sax jazzes it up. Tyree himself puts down a badass solo making great use of effects pedals to throw off this singularly funky sound. Medeski’s time is on “Shapeshifter,” shaping this song with a lurking organ on this dark ballad. Tyree keeps his articulations tasteful, prolonging and bending the notes to wring out every drop of soul from the song.

Dillard’s sassy sax provided the contrast to Tyree’s metal guitar shredding on “Dizzle McSizzle” and “Telekinesis” folds Brazilian moods into tough rock-jazz. Cuts like “The Search” and “A Song Of Hope” are examples of Tyree’s strong melodic sense, while “Drop Back” (live video below) is a let-it-all-hang-out slice of angular funk.

The dexterous, uncompromising and diverse Ben Tyree puts all those lofty adjectives and more on display on the self-released re:Vision. I didn’t give him due attention on Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber, but he’s got my attention, now. If guitar-driven funked-up fusion is your thing, your attention should be on Tyree, too.

Visit Ben Tyree’s website.

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S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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