There's nothing more enjoyable than listening to a jazz album which features talented musicians who put their egos on pause, making stimulating and challenging music without stepping on each other's notes. Each member of this group brings the music to its fullest fruition with confidence and expertise, while at the same time giving the others room to maneuver. Oh!,
represents the first recording by the whimsically named but serious-as-a-heart-attack quartet ScoLoHoFo, which features guitarist John SCOfield, Joe LOvano on tenor and curved soprano sax, Dave HOlland on bass, and drummer Al FOster.
The title cut opens things up and sets the tone for the disc. You can hear the various conversations taking place as they play, musicians picking up one other's thoughts and moving things forward. "Right About Now" and "Oh I See" are easygoing, sundown-on-Sunday types of blues. "The Winding Way" features an edgy Scofield solo. Lovano's solo attacks the high end of the tenor, then alights to earth amidst a flurry of notes. Foster takes a temperamental turn, pounding on his snare, licking around its edges. "In Your Arms" is a lovely, post-coital ballad that showcases Lovano on his soprano.
The centerpiece of the disc is "New Amsterdam", a glorious 12-minute fusion odyssey. Scofield contributes an exhilarating funkiness to his playing, Lovano reaches into the gritty depths of his horn and shrieks at what he finds there, and Holland walks the bass like he's running, if not fast-walking, from the devil. The end result is a steaming gumbo which would make Miles Davis raise up, cup his hand to his ear, and utter "Say what?"
Not just a random act of assonance - this disc explores various styles of jazz with brilliant results. From the opening theme of the first cut to Lovano's closing wail at the end, this quartet hits the mark. It may be still very early in 2003, but I'm putting this one on my "Best Of The Year" list now.
Personnel: Joe Lovano, tenor and curved soprano saxophones; John Scofield: guitar;
Dave Holland: bass; Al Foster: drums.