A product of the diverse Washington, DC music scene, guitarist, Ben Tyree is a performer and composer of virtuosic ability, infectious groove & eclectic tastes. He studied both jazz & classical music in high school while writing his own rock songs and going to jam sessions at night. He continued his studies at DC’s prestigious Duke Ellington School of the Arts and at Howard University before moving to New York in 2002. The template for his genre-hopping agility was set by the pioneering Miscellaneous Flux, the band that he co-founded in 1998 while still in residing in DC., the group fused jazz, hip-hop & punk rock into a crowd-invigorating mix, releasing 2 EPs & a full-length album before disbanding in 2005 following its members’ move to New York. Tyree’s longstanding trio BT3 continues in that vein, melding together jazz, funk & rock in an eye-openingly memorable way. The trio recorded their debut CD, re:Vision, in 2010 with special guests and both friends of the proGram, John Medeski& DJ Logic, no strangers to boundary-erasing grooves. In recent years he’s toured and recorded with the group of people who extended my ears, the eclectic Burnt Sugar: The Arkestra Chamber as well as the uncategorizable Memphis singer-songwriter Valerie June, whose unique blend of folk, blues, gospel & soul have brought him to the stages of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno & the Late Show with David Letterman. His compositions have also taken the leap from stage to screen. He has scored several independent films as well as pieces for television that have appeared on ESPN and in advertising campaigns for companies like Green Team USA.
I had the chance to check in with Ben about his latest project titled ‘Catalytic’ in a duo partnership with friend of the proGram, percussionist, Sameer Gupta. The new tunes are due out December 6 via Tyree’s Sonic Architectures imprint. We talk about the process that shaped the new music starring right around the time that the two neighbors put out their Unruly Neighbors record. We discuss the trust that defines an understanding within each other, of each other and the directions the music takes, knowing when an improvisational moment is concluding or shifting. Ben takes time to define how each track took shape and where or how the titles came to be. There are so many relatable moments to this process and this music that make sense to me, and I truly believe that if you approach this listening the same way, with an openness to go with each flow, you’ll find your daily, hourly, momentary moment that fits just right. The key is the desire to be adventurous and look for the unknown, these two creators have it and sharing it has a second part to it…..you need to go find it. Be your own catalyst in finding your adventures. Start here.