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STEVE TIBBETTS

Jazz Rock/Fusion • United States


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Steve Tibbetts picture
Steve Tibbetts biography
American guitarist, who also plays mandolin, kalimba, and synthesizer, even if he rarely uses these instruments through his various records. He's both an excellent electric and acoustic guitar player and uses much of the resources that studio technology offers. There's also an ethnic/world dimension in his music, especially with the recurrent use of percussions (with the help of Marc Anderson) and other exotic instruments.

His music can be described as a cross of progressive and world/jazz fusion, but his two first albums are definitely the most progressive while the following releases through the 1980's rather belong to a pure world/ethnic vein. He came back since the 1990's for two more albums now dominated by Tibbett's furious electric guitar and modern synthetic rhythms which contrast to the timeless style of his previous records.

His three first albums are the best. The first record is unique and original, the most intriguing and experimental, while the second "Yr" is the most melodic, accomplished and complex with a lot of studio work, including multiple layers of electric and acoustic guitars, mandolin, dobro, and percussions, with an ethereal and fluent quality. The third album, "Northern song" prefigures the ethnic/world orientation of the next albums, and has a meditative, contemplative quality.
He's on ECM label since the second album, "Yr", released in 1980.



Why this artist must be listed in www.progarchives.com :
Steve Tibbetts deserves a better recognition in the jazz rock genre. He's both a great composer and an excellent musician. His style is unique and belong to the "world" side of fusion with progressive elements, especially on his two first records.



Discography:
Steve Tibbetts, studio album (1977)
Yr, studio album (1980)
Northern song, studio album (1981)
Safe journey, studio album (1983)
Big map idea, studio album (1986)
Exploded view, studio album (1987)
The fall of us all, studio album (1994)
A man about a horse, studio album (2002)

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Life OfLife Of
ECM 2018
$13.79
$14.97 (used)
Yr.Yr.
Reissued
Ecm Records 2001
$99.99
$45.95 (used)
Natural CausesNatural Causes
ECM 2010
$14.55
Safe JourneySafe Journey
Reissued
Ecm Import 2001
$19.80 (used)
Exploded ViewExploded View
Reissued
Ecm Import 2001
$59.90
$25.00 (used)
Northern SongNorthern Song
Reissued
Ecm Import 2001
$99.99
$62.12 (used)
The Fall of Us AllThe Fall of Us All
ECM Records 1994
$50.00
$15.75 (used)
Steve TibbettsSteve Tibbetts
3d 2005
$24.48 (used)
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STEVE TIBBETTS discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

STEVE TIBBETTS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.10 | 10 ratings
Steve Tibbetts
1977
4.26 | 22 ratings
Yr
1980
3.04 | 10 ratings
Northern Song
1982
3.43 | 9 ratings
Safe Journey
1983
3.64 | 11 ratings
Exploded View
1986
3.64 | 11 ratings
Big Map Idea
1989
3.23 | 11 ratings
The Fall of Us All
1995
3.00 | 2 ratings
Knut Hamre and Steve Tibbetts: ┼
1999
3.11 | 9 ratings
A Man About A Horse
2002
3.18 | 9 ratings
Natural Causes
2010

STEVE TIBBETTS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

STEVE TIBBETTS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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STEVE TIBBETTS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Yr by TIBBETTS, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 1980
4.26 | 22 ratings

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Yr
Steve Tibbetts Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This is considered a classic and landmark album by many as American Steve Tibbetts offers up his version of World Music you could say with many ethnic instruments involved like kalimba, sitar, dobro, congas, tablas, maracas and more. I came in somewhat skeptical as I'm not big on acoustic music and there's a lot of that here but surprisingly we get quite a bit of electric guitar and maybe even more shocking mellotron on half of these tracks. I was won over rather quickly I might add with these excellent all instrumental compositions. I was reminded of Mike Oldfield quite often, even with some of the electric guitar work. I like the original black and white cover art but when Steve signed with the ECM label they changed the cover art to that new age-like looking picture which is still nice.

"Ur" is actually my favourite track on here. Acoustic guitar and percussion lead the way early and there's atmosphere as well. But when the mellotron arrives after 2 minutes with drums and electric guitar I'm in heaven. So good! "Sphexes" is a top four for me. How good does this sound with the percussion and electric guitar. It settles quickly though with percussion only but the guitar is back before 1 1/2 minutes lighting it up. Nice. It settles back once again. I like this one a lot.

"Ten Years" is very ethnic sounding with that picked instrument and percussion. Acoustic guitar eventually takes the lead then the electric guitar joins in around 3 minutes and lasts just over a minute. Back to the acoustic guitar then it all picks up after 5 minutes. Electric guitar is back after 6 minutes and it sounds pretty amazing a minute later. "One Day" is a short acoustic guitar piece.

"Three Primates" opens with acoustic guitar and the mood is a happy one. Lots of intricate sounds when the tempo picks up. It settles back before 2 1/2 minutes. A change in the rhythm a minute later as it almost swings here with lots of acoustic guitar melodies. Percussion to the fore around 4 minutes. "You And It" is a top four. Acoustic guitar as the atmosphere rolls in. Beautiful waves of mellotron here. Electric guitar and drums join in after 2 1/2 minutes, percussion as well. It settles back around 4 1/2 minutes sounding like the intro with the acoustic guitar and mellotron. Percussion before 6 minutes as the guitar steps aside along with the mellotron but the atmosphere continues before the mellotron returns. Great track!

"The Alien Lounge" is my final top four and it opens with acoustic guitar and a majestic sound of mellotron and more. It settles back as percussion comes to the fore and the mellotron stops. Acoustic guitar continues then the mellotron returns before 2 1/2 minutes along with some Oldfield-like electric guitar. Check out the gorgeous ending. "Ten Yr Dance" starts with acoustic guitar melodies and more as it picks up quickly. Electric guitar joins in but soon it's mostly acoustic guitar but contrasts will continue as he lights it up on the electric again.

Count me a fan of "Yr" and I have a feeling I'm just going to grow in my admiration of this the more I play it.

 Natural Causes by TIBBETTS, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.18 | 9 ratings

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Natural Causes
Steve Tibbetts Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by taylorm

4 stars This is an enchanting album, one influenced strongly by Tibbett's strong Buddhist leanings alongside his unique 12-string guitar tunings and legato phrasing. It's certainly progressive music, although there's not much rock to be found here in comparison to his earlier electric albums such as 'The Fall of Us All'. Instead the tracks represent an exploration of intense, meditative soundscapes. Tibbett's snaking guitar lines fold effortlessly into the rich percussive tapestry provided by longtime collaborator Marc Anderson who deploys a range of hand drums and gongs. The result is a beautiful, unique and contemplative album, one that burns with an understated intensity.
 Big Map Idea by TIBBETTS, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.64 | 11 ratings

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Big Map Idea
Steve Tibbetts Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by admireArt
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Before anything else, this is music related to Prog. Unwise to think otherwise!

Neither the tagging, this is not close to Rock nor Jazz. Maybe the unexistent "Progressive/World/Ambient" music tagging will suit it better. On the other hand as soon as there is a TABLA among your instruments, you will be pushed to the other exotic "Indo Prog Raga/Rock" sub-genre, which this work is neither. The never ending problems of "tagging".

Anyway, if permitted to avoid them, this Steve Tibbets "Big Map Idea", is close in spirit to another "world-music" artist, Michael Hedges also a guitarist (who departed to other realms, tragically in 1997). Therefore, if you are more or less aquainted with Hedges' works, this works is in the same creative vein.

If not, let's compare this music to an "imaginary" character, like a less flash, far more creative, less "religious", nature-loving John McLaughlin, breeded with Jimmy Page's "raw" to the bone mysticism and acoustic guitar "unpolished" feeling. (Mr. Page comes to mind due to the magnifIcent "cover" of "Black Mountain Side", track 1).

Slow paced, perfectly rich in ideas, without any kind of "fireworks". And as mentioned, this is music by its own, related to prog. Not the other way around!

Climb the ladder...!

****4 perfect PA stars, no less!

 Natural Causes by TIBBETTS, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.18 | 9 ratings

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Natural Causes
Steve Tibbetts Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by admireArt
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Like the earlier "Northern Songs" album, this 2010 "Natural Causes" project, is quiet underrated, by the few that have rated this "small wonder". I suspect that the Jazz/Fusion followers, don't feel the "dynamics" so close to the style, maybe, I suppose.

Anyway, if you are an acoustic guitar player or audiophile, or both, Steve Tibbetts, is someone you should be aware of. His style as such, is really not Jazz nor Fusion, as I have mentioned, it is closer to the "New Age" or "Ambient" taggings, which of course has a lot of good as bad exponents. Tibbetts's "Natural Causes" , is close to the best those kind of music genres generated and all he offered back in return to the same.

So to pin-point somehow his sound, I who dislike unnecessary comparissons, would try to make you think of an example. Imagine the John McLaughlin (Shakti) kind of ensemble (less the violin), with a far better sense of music-composition and less flash, with a bit of the very naked-like sound of "Oregon", wrapped in the "spiritual/ambiental" approach of Steve Roach's music, compressed in perfectly written songs, that turn out to be each one as good as the other. In a flawless "instrumental" effort, closer I insist, to the ambiental environments, which of course, I would hardly consider "Jazz/Rock or Fusion" as such.

Therefore, it does not hold any of the "protocols" or "pirouettes" of the Jazz/Rock/Fusion genre. Its "fusion" value, consist mainly in the very moderate use of native "mid-western" instruments, but mainly as parts of acoustic guitar compositions, perfectly and original acoustic guitar songs performed by an unpretentious virtuoso, that also knows how to write excellent close to masterful pieces.

****4.5 PA stars . And yes,I insist, this could hardly be tagged Jazz or Rock, although it is all Prog!

 Northern Song by TIBBETTS, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.04 | 10 ratings

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Northern Song
Steve Tibbetts Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by admireArt
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Far more daring than his earlier works, "Northern Songs", is less Jazz/Fusion (thank the Gods) and more "Ambiental" to call it somehow. His compositions and performance, open up a new stage of direction, and the result as such, is not a "Jazz/Fusion" follower's dream.

That, I suppose, explains the poor ratings given, in comparisson to his more conventional "modern" Jazz works. To set it simply, there are no Fusion-like songs. This project could fit in more comfortably in the "crossover" genre, being that its roads travel far away from the "Latin/African/Indo" route, that most of the "Jazz/Fusion" people, usually cover.

This record, in fact holds that "unique" quality, which will happen later in future works. So, I suppose that standing in the shelf of "Jazz/Fusion/Prog", demerits the whole project. Not because there is something wrong with that genre, but because this effort, is not a Jazz/Rock sounding record. And in the Steve Tibbetts's discography up to that year, this is the project that breaks away fom that specific tagging. A turning point, in fact!

Daring, unique, excellent guitar playing and arrangements, and a very solid and un-repeatable display of very good acoustic guitar based songs. In my collection this project has been around since my first listening way back in time, and up to today, I find it to be a real delight. Therefore, something I will highly recommend.

****4 "essential" PA stars for any kind of Prog audiophile.

 Yr by TIBBETTS, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 1980
4.26 | 22 ratings

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Yr
Steve Tibbetts Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars This album came to me out of nowhere around the time of its release and remains a landmark album for me in that it helped push boundaries of what we like to call "world music." This virtuosic multi-instrumentalist from Minneapolis had the gall to compose an album of songs that have forever defied categorization on this self-produced album for the pristine sound of the ECM label. Though his followup albums continued to explore similar hybridizations of jazz, rock, folk, and Indian music, none have the power and draw that this one: even though it is made up of eight separate songs, I could never help playing the album start to finish once I'd put the needle down on song one.

1. "Ur" (4:43) sets the tone in a jaw-dropping MICHAEL HEDGES kind of way. (10/10)

2. "Sphexes" (3:49) follows "Ur" with what feels like is going to be an aggressive song before hand drums and other tuned percussives fill a soft lull, but then, yes, multiple guitars burst forth and tear it up for a few seconds. Then another lull of multiple percussives and spacey acoustic guitar play fill the sonic waves (lots of engineered effects) (9.5/10)

3. "Ten Years" (7:48) kalimbas, three or four of them! weaving together to open the song (bled over from "Sphexes") before talking drum and guitar harmonics and unfretted notes work their way in. Then suddenly at the two minute mark, an acoustic guitar jumps in an hijacks the song, making it all Indian folk sounding. But wait, enter two tracks of a searing electric lead at the three minute mark before settling back into a medieval folk sound. So weird and unexpected. Return of the searing electric before it all breaks down into all percussion and weird synth and harmonic effects. Astonishing! Did I mention this man's virtuosity on the guitars? (9.5/10)

4. "One Day" (2:27) opens for its first minute as a little acoustic guitar dittie like The Beatles's "Blackbird," but travels around many corners into different and, of course, unexpected territory. This guy has a sense of music making that is so foreign to my own. (9/10)

5. "Three Primates" (5:07) another multiple acoustic guitar opening before hand percussions and bass join in. Slowed down bridge at the one minute mark before heading into the second verse. At the end of the second minute electric guitar enters and makes a strong presence in the "chorus." Another bridge before the song enters a section of GENESIS-like picking and chord progression. Nice! Solo guitar starts off a rondo of fast arpeggi, joined by other guitar tracks, bass and tambourine. Another bridge, this time of harmonics and fast changing fast strumming chords is joined by tabla and 12-string to end. Cool! (9/10)

6. "You And It" (7:24) opens as a kind of Windham Hill thing before going Metheny "New Chautauqua" with Mellotron! and then going ape-crazy with some blistering electric lead and then ending with tablas and 'Tron! (9.5/10)

7. "The Alien Lounge" (3:42) opens with acoustic guitar kind of like the beginning of Led Zeppelin's "Lady" before morphing, (of course) into some very different directions of feathery guitar play. Near the halfway mark enter multiple tracks panning around with electronic guitars and synths and you have another uncategorizable sonic experience. (8.5/10)

8. "Ten Yr Dance" (3:20) dynamic acoustic guitar play (multiple guitars) with more searing electric weaving in and out from behind while the acoustic guitars dance frenetically with each other. Wow! Gorgeous and impressive! (9/10)

One of the all-time landmarks of world music, East-meets-West integration. This was 1980, people! Five stars, without hesitation!

 Yr by TIBBETTS, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 1980
4.26 | 22 ratings

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Yr
Steve Tibbetts Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Ktulu4997

5 stars Yr has such an intimate and refined sound, yet allows plenty of room for improvisation. Yr has a very mature sound for and album from the 80s. 80s fusion was plagued by the plastic sound of albums like Future Shock (Herbie Hancock) and music from artists like Yellowjackets. The album is similar to the folk/jazz fusion sound of Pat Metheny, but with far more warmth and soul. It is hard to believe that a guitarist can achieve this. Most fusion artists, or most artists who are planted firmly in the traditions of western music, cannot accurately portray the music of other cultures this well, but somehow Tibbetts does.

It is also very unusual that a fusion album has such an original and magnificently composed atmosphere. Tibbetts used techniques such as overdubbing so much that it is said a single song could have as many as 50 different layers to it. That is truly astounding. Despite this, the sound still manages to retain its warmth and intimacy. When recording this many layers it is too easy to go overboard, like many over produced prog albums.

It may be a stretch to call this fusion, because it relies on a slightly different language, but nonetheless it is a truly monumental Masterpiece (with a capital M), because it is so expressive and warm in a cold and calculated era of plastic music. Hats off to Steve Tibbetts.

 Natural Causes by TIBBETTS, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.18 | 9 ratings

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Natural Causes
Steve Tibbetts Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Marty McFly
Special Collaborator Errors and Omissions Team

2 stars Continuing Eastern elements in calm, guitar + percussion based music, Steve Tibbets presents another album in his line of work. I'm not sure about older entries in his discography, because I haven't heard them, but I know something else. This, even it's pleasant music intended for relaxation purposes, is not Prog. It's one of these albums that gets here and won't score so highly, because they're not meant to.

3(-), there's not much to rate. Calm, calm and again calm music, no major twists at all, slow pace, acoustic beauty. That's all. So if you want Prog, look elsewhere, because this album is for different audience.

 Knut Hamre and Steve Tibbetts: ┼ by TIBBETTS, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.00 | 2 ratings

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Knut Hamre and Steve Tibbetts: ┼
Steve Tibbetts Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Strictly speaking, Steve Tibbetts was the guest at this 1999 recording session, a collaboration between the Minneapolis guitarist and two kindred spirits from half a world away: Norway's Knut Hamre and Turid Spildo. It had to be a match made in musical heaven, combining the typically fluid playing of Tibbetts' (on acoustic guitar) with the evocative sound of the hardingfele: a rustic local fiddle employing a series of sympathetic strings to give it a rich ethnic ambiance.

The resulting album offers another fascinating example of Tibbett's active interest in esoteric World Music, in this case the ancient folk tradition of rural Scandinavia. In keeping with the unplugged spirit of the moment Tibbetts was joined by his old friend Marc Anderson (adding a sprinkle of hand-held percussives) and a small string section, including harp and psaltery. Together this multi-cultural ensemble creates a melancholy sound conjuring the bleak but beautiful landscapes of both the northern Minnesota prairie and the permafrost of backwoods Norway.

There is some beautiful music here, but 54-minutes are more than enough for a single sitting: after a while a certain monotony creeps into the set. This is an album that doesn't exactly encourage active listening, but it can provide ideal background music for churning butter, knitting woolen socks, or taking long, brisk walks across fallow winter farmland. Approach it in the right frame of mind, and be transported.

 A Man About A Horse by TIBBETTS, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.11 | 9 ratings

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A Man About A Horse
Steve Tibbetts Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Minneapolis guitar auteur Steve Tibbetts has been soaring fast and low beneath the sweep of our cultural radar for some years now, maintaining a musical vision built more around integrity than fashion. He may in fact be the best guitarist you've never heard, in part because, even after long exposure, it's hard to pinpoint his influences or classify his style: too ethereal for mainstream rock; too aggressive for ambient easy listening; and with a sensitivity to World Music far beyond the horizons of his northern Minnesota hometown.

This year 2002 album is (in my limited experience with his work) quintessential Tibbetts, typically building layers of overlapping liquid guitars over a perfect storm of exotic percussion, in this instance borrowed from the foothills of Kashmir: tables, gongs, shakers, and so forth. Individual track titles are meaningless: the entire album flows together with remarkable unity, sounding as if it was improvised on the spot and then carefully enhanced in post-production with a dizzy panoply of effects.

Rarely is there an actual melody to latch onto: most of it is a dreamscape of atmospheric rhythms and ethnic textures, blending pinpoint acoustic clarity with fuzzed-out electronic fury. It's an almost cinematic experience, in places resembling the soundtrack to a Central Asia action film. Sometimes delicate, at other times surprisingly harsh, the album as a whole is never less than compelling, and gives newcomers an ideal introduction to a unique (and unfairly overlooked) musical talent.

Thanks to oliverstoned for the artist addition.

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