John Scofield: Combo 66 (digital outlets)

 |   |  1 min read

I'm Sleeping In
John Scofield: Combo 66 (digital outlets)

It must be strange to one day be a hot young guitarist and then a mere four decades on from your debut wake up and find yourself age 66.

John Scofield (just “Sco” to everyone it seems) has filled in those decades with some exceptional work and played alongside many of the greats (Miles Davis, Joe Lovano, Charlie Haden among dozens) and recorded for Enja, Gramavision, Blue Note, Verve and ECM.

As you may guess from those musical touchstones and diverse labels, his music has ranged far and wide from post-bop to pop, swinging funk and gospel to measured ballads. And he has gathered Grammys, three in the past three years.

His wife titles his pieces and she clearly has a sense of humour.

With his established quartet – drummer Bill Stewart, bassist Vincente Archer and keyboard player Gerald Clayton – here Sco essays 10 new originals which gently and unobtrusively showcase his warm-to-funk Ibanez tone on material which can have a lively and fluid bounce (I Can't Dance which steps smartly out of the speakers over bubbling organ) or lean into the gloriously languid ballad I'm Sleeping In.

Along the way there is the appropriately titled Dang Swing (yep, an uptempo dance number with country inflections), the taut Icons at the Fair which is based on the chords of the folk tune Scarborough Fair (but a fair now populated by more exciting and excitable characters of the jazz-rock generation) and Uncle Southern which is a dialed-back piece with an evocation of church organ from Clayton and a subtle hint of reflective Southern soul throughout.

King of Belgium is swinging and witty tune dedicated the late harmonica master Toots Thielemans, best known outside the jazz world for playing the melancholy theme of Midnight Cowboy. This Sco tune celebrates Toots' wit rather than his ability to convey deeply moving emotions as on that theme tune.

So as is common with Sco – and whomever he plays with – his music stretches across genres with an ease which is engaging and never so clever it seems like being showy.

With a few dozen albums to his name it is probably hard to persuade those who were there in the early days to come back at this late stage, but the past few years he has been on a real roll (again) and this one – lively, thoughtful, sassy and deeply referenced – is very much worth returning for if you've been absent.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Jazz articles index

DAVID SANBORN, JAZZ AND ELSEWHERE SAXOPHONIST INTERVIEWED (1992): Where it's at, wherever "at" is at.

DAVID SANBORN, JAZZ AND ELSEWHERE SAXOPHONIST INTERVIEWED (1992): Where it's at, wherever "at" is at.

A little over three years ago an American magazine profiled alto saxophonist David Sanborn and included a selected discography. It made terrifyingly impressive reading. Aside from almost a dozen... > Read more

FREE JAZZ WITH A BLEEP: The Norwegian electronic-jazz label Rune Grammofone

FREE JAZZ WITH A BLEEP: The Norwegian electronic-jazz label Rune Grammofone

Thelonious Monk said, "Jazz and freedom go hand in hand”. We can guess he meant freedom in a political sense, because jazz is about individual expression and in that regard was a... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Bella Hristova and Michael Houstoun: Beethoven; The Violin Sonatas (Rattle)

Bella Hristova and Michael Houstoun: Beethoven; The Violin Sonatas (Rattle)

Sometimes just because we can, Elsewhere makes a courageous leap into the world of contemporary classical music because – in part – that is where we grew up; La Monte Young, Reich,... > Read more

U2: My unforgettable fire

U2: My unforgettable fire

It was quite a few years ago now but I'll never forget it. U2 damn near killed me. Them, the Arizona sun, a famous architect and tequila actually. It was during their Pop-Mart tour -- the one... > Read more