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Scott Sawyer: Go There

John Barron By

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Guitarist Scott Sawyer is the kind of musician who displays his musical diversity like a badge of honor. The North Carolinian, who is probably best known for his work with vocalist Nnenna Freelon, showcases his electrified playing and composing on Go There, a dynamic release featuring drummer Kenny Soule, bassists Oteil Burbridge and Ron Brendle, organist/flutist Kofi Burbridge—Oteil's older brother—and percussionist Chris Garges.

The disc opens with a funked-out arrangement of George Harrison's "Taxman, a raucous introduction to Sawyer's tastefully charged-up style. "5-Spot and "Royal Canal both have a laid back groove reminiscent of John Scofield with Medeski, Martin and Wood. The latter features a greasy organ solo by Kofi, a hard-hitting upright pulse from Brendle and a barrage of overdriven, inventive ideas from Sawyer. The guitarist demonstrates melodic flexibility on the soulful "Slow Dance, a pleasingly ethereal waltz, and "In the Stream, where effects manipulation thoughtfully takes center stage.

A straight-up backbeat compliments Sawyer's angular theme on "Ar. The extended vamp is the perfect vehicle for Oteil to stretch out with a blistering solo. The veteran bassist (Allman Brothers, Aquarium Rescue Unit) carefully unveils his monster chops for the better good of the groove.

Soule, a long-time musical comrade of Sawyer, keeps things moving with fat, in-the-pocket support. His meaty, never-in-the-way drumming elevates funkier tracks like "Going...Going...Gone and "Go Home, the session's blues-drenched closer.

A talent deserving of wider recognition, Sawyer is a guitarist of varying persuasion who will undoubtedly appeal to fans of groove-oriented experimentation. With exceptional performances and inspired compositions, Go There is a first-rate, soulful good time.

Track Listing: Taxman; 5-Spot; Royal & Canal; Slow Dance; Ar; Slow Down, Freight Train; In the Stream; Dark Lady; Going

Personnel: Scott Sawyer: guitar; Kenny Soule: drums; Kofi Burbridge: organ, flute; Oteil Burbridge: electric bass; Ron Brendle: acoustic bass; Chris Garges: gong, bells, rattles.

Title: Go There | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Self Produced

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