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Gary Willis — Larger Than Life (AUGUST 17, 2015)

Gary Willis — Larger Than Life (AUGUST 17, 2015)

 Gary Willis — Larger Than Life (AUGUST 17, 2015) Gary Willis — Larger Than Life (AUGUST 17, 2015)••≡••  World Leading Bassist, Gary Willis, to Release New Album, Larger Than Life… no a pokud víte, co vám dělá radost, proč to měnit? “A delicious collection of fusion–funk for the twenty–first century.” Joining me on this set of twelve tracks are Gergo Borlai on drums, Scott Kinsey on keyboards, Steve Tavaglione on saxes and EWI, Claudia Bardagí on voice and Llibert Fortuny on tenor sax and voice.
The album’s accompanying artwork, by Brazilian artist Rafael Sarmento, binds the tracks together in a kind of fantastic visual and aural universe. “In working with Rafael, what I’d like to do is push people toward listening with their imagination,” Willis explains. “Hopefully, my music inspires some kind of other awareness or consciousness — another world to escape to.” Indeed, for seventy–plus minutes, Larger Than Life does just that.Born: 28 March 1957
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Album release: AUGUST 17, 2015
Record Label: Abstract Logix
Duration:     74:36
Tracks:
01. The Professionals      4:23
02. Everything's Cool      5:52
03. Larger Than Life      8:19
04. Say It Ain't So      5:52
05. Source Code      8:30
06. Hipster      5:19
07. Solaris      5:33
08. Beast Mode      7:26
09. Alien Head Explodes      5:35
10. Vendetta.      6:47
11. 2Fast      5:50
12. Superhero      5:10
Personnel:
••≡••  Gary Willis — Bass;
••≡••  Scott Kinsey — Keyboards;
••≡••  Steve Tavaglione — Sax and EWI;
••≡••  Llibert Fortuny — Tenor Sax;
••≡••  Claudia Bardagí — Voice.DESCRIPTION:
•≡≡•  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’ slinky tune, “Everything’s Cool,” which he originally recorded on Bent. His solo here is a fretless tour de force with lightning quick runs, chord passages and harmonics. They tear it up on “Hipster,” a neoswinger that features Willis’ take on the walking upright. The tune’s initial lo–fi, quasiabsurdist drum part is actually Borlai playing “finger drums,” in which he triggers drum samples from a keyboard. “He can play the hell out of the drums that way,” says Willis. “anything he can play on real drums he can do on the keyboard, it’ll blow you away.” And the trio absolutely flies through Kinsey’s aptly named “2Fast,” a flat–out fusion burner. “The thing is, when the three of us play together, it just flows,” says Willis. “It’s effortless. We don’t have to talk about things, we don’t have to discuss direction; it just happens, especially with Gergo. Playing with him, all possibilities are open and they will all be taken to full advantage.” © Enter-to-Win-an-Ibanez-Signature-Gary-Willis-GWB35-Bass-and-Tone-Hammer-500-Bass-Head
•≡≡•  Kinsey is in top form throughout — a master synth player and programmer with sounds as modern as they get, but grounded in an electric piano approach that harkens back to the best of Weather Report. “There’s nobody out there like him,” Willis says of Kinsey’s mix of old school/new school. “He nailed everything on this project, and his Rhodes playing is just killing.” Steve Tavaglione turns in some tasty soprano sax solos (“Larger Than Life,” “Solaris”), but his command of the EWI — a kind of wind synthesizer — puts him in a category of his own. His contributions loom large, whether it’s expressive soloing or adding layers and color. “Tav is another one of those incredibly unique guys,” explains Willis. “It’s amazing what he came up with. Some of it I wrote for him; in other places he just improvised amazing stuff. He spends most of his time creating music for film so he thinks and plays very cinematically.”
•≡≡•  Several tunes on Larger Than Lifeare enhanced by Claudia Bardagí’s wordless vocals, which accentuate Willis’ lyrical melodies. “I intend for melodies to stand on their own,” explains Willis, “and Claudia’s voice gives them a human quality that adds another element to the music.” Llibert Fortuny rounds out the ensemble, and his tenor sax shines on “Vendetta,” an ominous–sounding Willis tune whose soundscape is heavily shaped by the versatile Borlai’s programming.
•≡≡•  Another Willis composition, “Beast Mode,” was written specifically for Borlai, whose stunning chops are on full display. “It was the last thing that we did,” says Willis. “I sent the tune to Kinsey and he and Gergio recorded it in one take. They sent it back to me and I did a couple of takes, and that was it.” “Alien Head Explodes” started life as a WillisBorlai jam, but “whatever I played didn’t inspire that song,” says Willis. “Gergo rewrote it and came up with a whole new direction and I added my parts later.”•≡≡•  Anchoring it all is Willis’ instantly recognizable bass work. His beautiful tone is put to good effect on “Say It Ain’t So,” a poignant ballad that Borlai wrote upon learning of Joe Zawinul’s death in 2007. Of course, all fretless players owe a debt to the legendary Jaco Pastorius, but Willis moved out of Jaco’s shadow long ago, forging a unique voice on the instrument, both in tone and style. Dig “Source Code,” a classic Willis composition that gradually builds in intensity as his broken bass figures give way to a stunning solo that in turn launches the band into a smoldering climax with Willis percolating underneath. The group–composed “Superhero” closes out the music in anthemic fashion, underpinned by Willis’ hypnotic groove.
•≡≡•  The album’s accompanying artwork, by Brazilian artist Rafael Sarmento, binds the tracks together in a kind of fantastic visual and aural universe. “In working with Rafael, what I’d like to do is push people toward listening with their imagination,” Willis explains. “Hopefully, my music inspires some kind of other awareness or consciousness — another world to escape to.” Indeed, for seventy–plus minutes, Larger Than Lifedoes just that.
BIO
≡••≡   For his most recent solo CD, Gary Willis returned to his jazz roots with “Retro” (Feb. 2013). His new trio features the incredible Gergo Borlai on drums and the acclaimed Catalan pianist Albert Bover on keyboards. A mix of vintage Jazz with the energetic twist that Willis always brings as well as a melodic side that has been seen in smaller doses throughout his career. Through the years Willis has played with musicians like Wayne Shorter, Allan Holdsworth, Hubert Laws, Simon Phillips, Joe Diorio, Robben Ford, and Pil Upchurch, as well as being the co–leader of Tribal Tech. ≡••≡   Since co–leading Tribal Tech with guitarist Scott Henderson, the band has produced ten critically acclaimed CD’s. 2012 saw the release of “X” by the supergroup Tribal Tech that comes to light after a 12 year hiatus. “X” documents the latest trip of this prolific musical jazz fusion group, known for its spirited arrangements and interactive improvisation. Getting the kind of synergies that materialize in a masterpiece like “X” is only possible when one has a rich musical history forged by virtuoso musicians.
≡••≡   Another recent project, Triphasic, came to light in 2009 with the publication of “Shaman“, their first album. The eclectic–electric trio features Llibert Fortuny on tenor sax, electronics and vocal effects as well as David Gomez on drums and electronic percussion. Willis’s latest explorations have been focused on bringing a synchronized visual experience to the trio’s live performances. This new development finds Willis occupying the VJ controls at the same time navigating the electronic sequences that the band improvises to. In 2007, Gary Willis released “Actual Fiction” and the avant–jam–trio “Slaughterhouse 3“. Early reviews of “Actual Fiction” describe that it’s “everything you’ve ever liked about his work with Tribal Tech and leaps forward a few light years.” while being “wide open from the very first note and will test your neck vertebrae with the powerful rhythms all through this recording.” Allaboutjazz.com describes “Slaughterhouse 3″ as “Undoubtedly funky and at times lyrical, the music on Slaughterhouse 3 is also nicely edgy, exploring some dark and heavy musical avenues. Willis, Covington and Fortuny all excel on a fascinating album which will hopefully be only the first of further collaborations together.”
≡••≡   Willis launched his solo career with the September 1996 release of “No Sweat”, featuring incredible performances by Dennis Chambers on drums, Scott Kinsey on keyboards, and Steve Tavaglione on woodwinds and EWI. For the 1998 follow up “Bent”, in addition to Chambers, Kinsey and Tavaglione, Willis added the fiery tenor of Bob Berg and long time Tribal Tech cohort/drummer Kirk Covington. Bent lives up to its title and takes the “rules” of jazz, through dynamic compositions and rhythm–defying improv, and bends reality to fit the talent of easily the most musically monstrous lineup on the scene today. Despite its all–star cast, any listener expecting the self–indulgent “chopfest” is instead treated to great musicians playing tastefully, musically and unselfishly.
≡••≡   As of 2004, Willis became a Barcelona, Spain resident and spends part of his time teaching composition, arranging, improvisation and bass at Barcelona’s prestigious Escola Superior de Musica de Catalunya conservatory. The Texas native studied arranging and improvisation as part of the legendary jazz program at North Texas State University. It was there that he switched to bass after years of guitar & bass study. After moving to Los Angeles in ’82 he became a course leader at Musicians Institute in Hollywood and also taught at California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California. In 1993, Warner publications released “Bass Lessons with the Greats”, which includes a chapter on Willis’s unique approach to improvisation. His hour–long educational video entitled “Progressive Bassics” features discussion of his technical and fingerboard harmony concepts. In 1998 [Hal Leonard Publishing Co] published his “Fingerboard Harmony for Bass”.
≡••≡   Adding to the Willis publishing catalog, Hal Leonard Publishing Co offers “The Gary Willis Collection”. The book features 11 transcriptions of original Willis tunes, including the contemporary classic The “Necessary Blonde”, which is one of two compositions also included in Sher Music’s “The New Real Book–Volume Two”. Two other compositions from his solo recordings are also featured in the ” All Jazz Real Book”, “It’s Only Music” and “The Everlasting Night” also from Sher Music. In Jan. ’99 Hal Leonard released “Ultimate Ear Training for Guitar and Bass”. Bass Player calls it an “excellent method to help you develop your ears and connect them–through your hands–to your instrument.” In demand as an educator, He’s conducted clinics and master classes in over 21 different countries. The latest Willis book from Hal Leonard, “101 Tips for Bass” , was released in 2002 and provides valuable how–to insight that bassists of all styles and levels can benefit from.
≡••≡   In 1999, Ibanez Guitars introduced the Gary Willis Signature Bass. In development for almost 2 years, the Willis Bass offers bassists the chance to purchase the bass built to Willis’s exacting specifications, and an opportunity to get that “Willis sound.” The bass has evolved over the years with subtle improvements, but the latest, most striking change is that now the bass is hand–crafted from start to finish and in Willis’s words: “Instead of trying to make this bass more affordable, Ibanez has decided to make it perfect.”
Website: http://garywillis.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Gary-Willis/297142263721926
Label: http://label.abstractlogix.com/
BASS MUSICIAN MAGAZINE: http://bassmusicianmagazine.com/2015/07/world-leading-bassist-gary-willis-to-release-new-album-larger-than-life/
BASS PLAYER: http://www.bassplayer.com/artists/1171/gary-willis-premieres-new-song-everythings-cool-on-bassplayercom-exclusive-track/53079 ••≡••••≡••••≡••••≡••••≡••••≡••••≡••••≡••••≡••••≡••••≡•••• 

Gary Willis — Larger Than Life (AUGUST 17, 2015)

 

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