As a musician's musician, guitarist Scott Henderson has always raised the bar, whether he was playing bluesy jazz or heavy fusion. Musically raised in the south of Florida he was inspired by guitarists like Ritchie Blackmore, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and Allan Holdsworth. But his main influence came from blues giant Albert King. Although his love for the bluesy side of music, his work with Chick Corea, Jean-Luc Ponty, and Joe Zawinul defined his dedicated musical direction on the guitar. Besides his masterworks with Tribal Tech, Tribal Tech Tones and HBC (2012, see review), People Mover is his sixth album recorded under his own name. Since his previous solo album, Vibe Station from 2015, with bassist Travis Carlton and drummer Alan Hertz, his rhythm section has been replaced by young French musicians, bass player Romain Labaye and drummer Archibald Ligonnière.
As heard on the previous Scott Henderson solo album, the compositions are seemingly less structured than we are used to when listening to his Tribal Tech albums. Nevertheless, compositions like the album's openers Transatlantic and Primary Location. Two strong songs, where the first shows wide lush chord progressions and tremolo driven melodies, the second displays shorter notes and adds blues and electronics to the track. All Aboard is a short interlude presenting the album's title track People Mover. A very fine track highlighting the very, very strong rhythm section. With this composition, good old Tribal Tech with delicate electronics comes to mind. Satellite and Happy Fun-Sing give me a similar feeling as the openings track of the CD, very pleasant compositions with excellent guitar work and furious playing. During Blood Moon Scott's guitar almost drowns in the all-over present electronics, but as a true versatile guitar player, he makes his guitar stand out. Not my favourite though, since I prefer the “real” musicians situation. Youngsters Travis Carlton and Alan Hertz have their highlight during Blue Heron Boulevard. A smooth jazzy composition where all three musicians are completely in balance. Syringe is again a track where electronics are the fourth and very important ingredient of the track. During this one, I feel the balance is there and prefer this track to the previous electronic laden composition Blood Moon.
For me, the guitar player Scott Henderson can't do anything wrong. His playing is out of this world and his compositions are way beyond the average jazz fusion compositions. The additional use of electronics, sometimes gives the song something extra, during others I could have done without it. Nevertheless, People Mover is an excellent addition to this collection and I am sure the Henderson adepts as well as regular guitar driven jazz rock fusion fans will see this one as one of the musical highlights of the year.
****+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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