Robert Tye

Virtues of the Well

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Detroit guitarist Robert Tye has vast experience in live performance, from symphonic ensembles, the hip fusion trio the Hot Club, the contemporary worldbeat band Waka Jawaka, to the straight organ groove-oriented Lyman Woodard trio and his own working trio with bassist Jim Simonson and drummer Dave Taylor. All are heard here. On this, his debut as a leader, Tye mines the well of jazz '70s style along with newer, rockin' funk, while showcasing an expressive, studied and learned approach to his brand of instrumental music. Tye's sound is clean, spare, and warm, occasionally with speedy scales and riffs but mostly on-the-spot improv. He plays an amplified Guild electric guitar sans effects. There are plenty of styles to choose from in this originally composed 11-cut program. Blue Note fans will enjoy the bop-influenced Pat Martino-ish "Okay," the John Scofield-Joe Lovano-like unison lines of Tye and saxophonist Mark Kieme on "Naked Except for Clown Shoes," the slight references to "Invitation," "Dolphin Dance," and "Giant Steps" on Brian Brill's piece "Good Intentions," or the all-out jam vehicle with Kieme in a Michael Brecker mood on the finale "Thorn." Slow, heavy funk fans can gravitate toward "Debra Centerfold" with Lyman Woodard, while dream chasers can latch on to the romantic, acoustic strains of the small bossa "Can I Ever Do Right by You?." The piano-guitar unison beauty of "The Girl from Walkerville" is also reprised for one minute on solo acoustic guitar, and an astounding Ralph Towner-like intro into the headhunter-ish piece "The Sneak" should be convincing enough of Tye's ability and honesty in presenting his music, his way. This is neither a neo-bop nor a contemporary fusion effort, but an intriguing combination of the two. Tye, an obviously skilled musician with many loves and influences, shines brightly on this long overdue project, picked his guest artists well, and postulates that you can take cues from the modern jazz guitar strain of Wes Montgomery, Pat Martino, John McLaughlin, and Pat Metheny (and others) and still sound emphatically like yourself.

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