All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review


Scott Fields: Bitter Love Songs

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
While the sardonic album title alludes to a session fraught with rancorous despair, guitarist Scott Fields' Bitter Love Songs is, perhaps ironically, one of his most accessible efforts. Born in Chicago, but now based in Cologne, Germany, Fields recorded this date in his new home town with German bassist Sebastian Gramss and Portuguese drummer Joao Lobo. An iconoclast who favors unusual instrumental combinations, this is his first guitar trio recording since Mamet (Delmark, 2001), with bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Michael Zerang.

In the scathing liner notes Fields explains that the unsettled themes, fitful rhythms and grating dissonances elicited by the trio are intended to invoke the nerve-wracking nausea that accompanies the impending dissolution of romance. While all of these traits are present, they are often fairly subtle; in contrast to his exotic conceptual projects, this loose trio session is actually somewhat conventional.

With Fields as the principle soloist, Gramss and Lobo follow the guitarist's lead, providing stirring rhythmic accompaniment that vacillates in tempo from casual to frantic. The majority of the tunes saunter at a buoyant mid-tempo clip with periods of intermittent turbulence. Occasionally reaching a fevered pitch, but never boiling over, the trio generates a more agreeable mood than one would expect from such song titles as "My Love Is Love, Your Love Is Hate" and "Your Parents Must Be Just Ecstatic Now." Only "I Was Good Enough for You Until Your Friends Butted In" breaks form with a languorous abstract blues.

A proponent of structured improvisation based on tone row manipulation, Fields conveys his enigmatic statements with focused intensity. He fires rapid salvoes of knotty linear cadences at regular staccato intervals from his clean-toned hollow body. At his most feverish, he conjures blistering chromatic note clusters as he scuttles across his fretboard. Together, Gramss' elastic walking bass patterns, Lobo's shuffling trap set ruminations and Fields' thorny commentary coil into a kaleidoscopic mosaic of expressionistic interplay.

Despite the derisive title, Bitter Love Songs is a compelling example of modern jazz guitar improvisation supported by an empathetic rhythm section. For aficionados of unfettered guitar traditions, this is essential listening.

Track Listing: Yea, Sure, We Can Still Be Friends, Whatever; Go Ahead, Take the Furniture, at Least You Helped Pick It Out; My Love Is Love, Your Love Is Hate; Your Parents Must Be Just Ecstatic Now; I Was Good Enough for You Until Your Friends Butted In; You Used to Say I Love You but So What Now.

Personnel: Scott Fields: electric guitar; Sebastian Gramss: bass; Joao Lobo: drums.

Title: Bitter Love Songs | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Clean Feed Records


comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles

Minaret Minuets

Stash Records


What We Talk

Stash Records



New World Records



Stash Records


Related Articles

Read Peaks of Light CD/LP/Track Review
Peaks of Light
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 18, 2018
Read In Denmark I Was Born CD/LP/Track Review
In Denmark I Was Born
by Gareth Thompson
Published: March 18, 2018
Read Dreams of Belonging CD/LP/Track Review
Dreams of Belonging
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 18, 2018
Read In Copenhagen - Live at Jazzhus Slukefter 1983 CD/LP/Track Review
In Copenhagen - Live at Jazzhus Slukefter 1983
by Chris Mosey
Published: March 18, 2018
Read A Year Ago Today CD/LP/Track Review
A Year Ago Today
by Doug Collette
Published: March 18, 2018
Read Ravensburg CD/LP/Track Review
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: March 17, 2018
Read "Door Girl" CD/LP/Track Review Door Girl
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: September 23, 2017
Read "Innate" CD/LP/Track Review Innate
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: March 29, 2017
Read "Kickin' Child - The Lost Album 1965" CD/LP/Track Review Kickin' Child - The Lost Album 1965
by Doug Collette
Published: June 24, 2017
Read "Life In Space" CD/LP/Track Review Life In Space
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 3, 2017
Read "Day and Night" CD/LP/Track Review Day and Night
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 18, 2017
Read "Sculptures" CD/LP/Track Review Sculptures
by Patrick Burnette
Published: March 2, 2018