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STEVE TIBBETTS

Jazz Rock/Fusion • United States


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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)

Steve Tibbetts official website

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Yr.Yr.
Ecm Records 2001
Audio CD$92.56
$11.99 (used)
Safe JourneySafe Journey
Import
Ecm Import 2001
Audio CD$501.34
$24.99 (used)
Natural CausesNatural Causes
Ecm Records 2010
Audio CD$8.77
$6.55 (used)
The Fall of Us AllThe Fall of Us All
Ecm Records 1994
Audio CD$44.99
$3.20 (used)
Man About a HorseMan About a Horse
Ecm Records 2002
Audio CD$19.46
$15.25 (used)
Exploded ViewExploded View
Import
Ecm Import 2001
Audio CD$9.09
$2.75 (used)
Big Map IdeaBig Map Idea
Import
Ecm Import 2001
Audio CD$24.97
$9.99 (used)
Steve TibbettsSteve Tibbetts
Cuneiform 1995
Audio CD$40.93 (used)
Northern SongNorthern Song
Import
Ecm Import 2001
Audio CD$160.00
$25.49 (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)

4.08 | 7 ratings
Steve Tibbetts
1977
4.14 | 17 ratings
Yr
1980
2.82 | 8 ratings
Northern Song
1982
3.39 | 8 ratings
Safe Journey
1983
3.33 | 9 ratings
Exploded View
1986
3.42 | 8 ratings
Big Map Idea
1989
3.18 | 9 ratings
The Fall of Us All
1995
3.00 | 2 ratings
Knut Hamre and Steve Tibbetts: ┼
1999
3.07 | 8 ratings
A Man About A Horse
2002
2.66 | 7 ratings
Natural Causes
2010

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

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STEVE TIBBETTS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Big Map Idea by TIBBETTS, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.42 | 8 ratings

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Big Map Idea
Steve Tibbetts Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by admireArt

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!

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 Natural Causes by TIBBETTS, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 2010
2.66 | 7 ratings

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Natural Causes
Steve Tibbetts Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by admireArt

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 "new age" or "Ambient" music, which of course has a lot of good as bad exponents. Tibbetts's "Natural Causes" of course, is closer to the best that gender generated and all he offered back to the same, in return.

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 BAND (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, that of course, I would hardly consider "Jazz/Rock/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, in, I insist again, perfectly and original acoustic guitar songs by an unpretentious virtuoso, that knows how to write excellent close to masterful compositions.

For me, ****4.5 PA stars . And yes, this could hardly be called "Jazz or Rock", although it is all Prog!

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 Northern Song by TIBBETTS, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 1982
2.82 | 8 ratings

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Northern Song
Steve Tibbetts Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by admireArt

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.

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 Yr by TIBBETTS, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 1980
4.14 | 17 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.

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 Natural Causes by TIBBETTS, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 2010
2.66 | 7 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.

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 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.

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 A Man About A Horse by TIBBETTS, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.07 | 8 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.

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 A Man About A Horse by TIBBETTS, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.07 | 8 ratings

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A Man About A Horse
Steve Tibbetts Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

2 stars (First written review.) This one is more in the not-so-impressed category of these PA/library spottings of mine. I picked the album hastily, pleased to see that it's in the ECM label (my fave what comes to modern melancholic jazz especially from the Nordic countries). Next I saw that there's only guitars, percussion, percussion, percussion and percussion, and only titles like 'Lupra', 'Lochana' or 'Red/ Black/ Burning Temple', I began to doubt. Yeah, a narrow attitude I should be ashamed of. But I gave it a spin with as open ears as possible. At least the titles couldn't be more in sync with the music. There is a clear sense of Eastern mysticism made by multiple percussion. But it was something I'm not interested to form a closer relationship with. You see, it gets very tiring and monotonous, too distant, cold and unfamiliar to get really into. But if that combination (g+perc) and the Eastern feel attracts you, you might find this album great.

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 Yr by TIBBETTS, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 1980
4.14 | 17 ratings

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Yr
Steve Tibbetts Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by fuxi
Prog Reviewer

4 stars YR is the most charming Steve Tibbetts album I've discovered so far. Although it's similar in concept to THE FALL OF US ALL, which I reviewed earlier (bass and Indian-style percussion lay down repetitive rhythms over which Tibbetts plays solos on both acoustic and electric guitars), the mood is much mellower and dreamier. The first half of THE FALL OF US ALL sounds terribly hectic and the second half sounds despondent; YR, on the other hand, contains quite a few passages that will remind you of early Genesis at their most romantic (think of the opening sections of 'Musical Box' or 'The Cinema Show') without ever getting sentimental. It seems inconceivable that Tibbetts was unfamiliar with Genesis' music. He also includes passages where he plays solos against a lovely background of kalimba and vases (!) and fortunately he's wise enough not to see virtuosity as an end in itself.

YR has far more in common with sophisticated instrumental rock than with any kind of jazz. It should appeal to anyone who enjoys guitar-playing that's poetic as well as energetic; I can imagine it will be liked by admirers of Steve Hillage, David Torn, Brand X, Jade Warrior and (early) Mike Oldfield. Strongly recommended!

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 The Fall of Us All by TIBBETTS, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.18 | 9 ratings

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The Fall of Us All
Steve Tibbetts Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by fuxi
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Ideal if you want to go backpacking through eastern Asia!

Do you like frenetic percussion? I mean REALLY frenetic, the kind that makes Santana sound like a kindergarten Christmas singalong? Then THE FALL OF US ALL must be the album for you. Especially its first six tracks, because there Steve Tibbetts (percussion), Marc Anderson (Congas, steel drum and percussion) and Marcus Wise (tabla) lay down the wildest rhythms, on top of which Tibbetts plays manic guitar solos like a latter-day Hendrix. It sounds as if he's on a wild motorcycle ride through Asia, having started the day on half a liter of the blackest coffee; at least the tracks' titles (and the temple photos in the CD booklet) suggest as much: 'Dzogchen punks', 'Full moon dogs', 'Hellbound train'... Occasional relief is provided by gentle wordless female vocals, dreamy guitar loops and balmy synths.

On the second half of the CD Tibbetts has crashed. He now sounds as if he's stumbling through Bangkok in a daze, with a terrible hangover. Electric solos are virtually absent. Tibbetts mainly plays desolate acoustic guitar, helped by steel drums and plangent double bass. Again, the titles seem to be telling a story: 'All for nothing', 'Fade away', 'Drinking lesson', 'Burnt offering', 'Travel alone'. I hope he made it home safely!

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