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July/August 2004

David Becker Tribune
Where's Henning?
Acoustic Music

David Becker has a history in fusion, but on the cryptically named Where's Henning (Acoustic), the guitarist really seems to want to release his inner Kenny Burrell. His band, the David Becker Tribune, performs here as a stripped-down guitar trio. While you won't find distortion or elevated volume, you will find easy swing and chordal improvisation. Becker also earnestly front-loads the recording with a bunch of hoary standards. But whether they're honest about it with themselves or not, Becker's Tribune is a group built for fusion-and before long, that tendency bubbles up to the surface.

Becker's drummer brother Bruce delivers a functional, distracted swing-until, that is, he can unload his beefy tom-tom rolls. Bassist Tom Lilly's heavy-footed bass lines drag on the more classic jazz material as well. Becker himself offers some harmonically astute solos, and he has an attractive fluency on the instrument even if his lines aren't particularly memorable. The band occasionally hits a stride on originals like "Kurds and Waves," the sort of thing that, had they grafted on vocals and added a touch of distortion, could easily slip into the back end of a hard-rock radio playlist. Desultory strolls through "On Green Dolphin Street" and "All Blues" or a one-size-fits-all "Well You Needn't" should not merit a place on anyone's iPod.

Originally published in July/August 2004
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