Review by Halina Wegner
Guitar virtuoso Scott Henderson is poised to grace the music scene once again with his highly anticipated album, “Karnevel!,” slated for release on February 2, 2024. Following the triumph of his previous album, “People Mover,” which garnered the title of best fusion album of 2019 by Jazz Times magazine and earned Henderson Best Guitarist and Best Electric/Jazz-Rock/Contemporary Group awards in the JazzTimes Readers Poll, the expectations for “Karnevel!” are nothing short of monumental.
“Karnevel!” promises a diverse tapestry of captivating compositions, exemplifying Henderson’s unparalleled prowess in seamlessly intertwining elements of jazz, rock, funk, and blues with an authentic musical finesse. With 35 years as a bandleader under his belt, Henderson’s musical evolution continues to unfold, pushing the boundaries of his playing and composition.
Recorded live in the studio with Romain Labaye on bass and Archibald Ligonnière on drums, the same talented musicians from “People Mover,” Henderson takes the listener on a sonic journey enriched by the layers of additional guitar tracks meticulously crafted after the live session. “I’m happy I was able to come up with quite a few sounds I’ve never used before,” shared Henderson in a recent interview. “The variety and pacing are very important aspects of a record to me, and this one covers a lot of territory, from heavy rock moments to very harmonic jazz, and there’s a solo guitar piece which is something I haven’t done on an album before.”
Conceptually inspired by his fondness for carnivals, Henderson elaborated, “It comes from being a fan of the LA Fair and carnivals in general, not so much as a kid, but from being a dad. Disneyland is fun, but the fair is way more quirky, ridiculous, and always hilarious. It’s a crazy atmosphere filled with variety, like my music.”
A luminary born in 1954, Henderson first made waves in the 1980s with his legendary band Tribal Tech, propelling him to the forefront as one of the most influential guitar players and composers in jazz fusion. His illustrious career spans collaborations with luminaries like Chick Corea, Joe Zawinul of Weather Report, and Jean-Luc Ponty, among many others, leading to over 20 albums and touring across 70 countries.
“Karnevel!” unveils a tracklist that promises an exhilarating sonic expedition, with titles such as “Step Right Up,” “Haunted Ballroom,” “Covid Vaccination,” and “Carnies’ Time,” showcasing the album’s eclectic range and thematic intricacies.
In conjunction with the album release, Henderson has announced a forthcoming European tour, providing audiences the opportunity to experience the sonic odyssey of “Karnevel!” live.
Prepare to be mesmerized as Scott Henderson once again asserts his musical prowess, seamlessly blending jazz and rock traditions to craft an unparalleled fusion guitar masterpiece.