Support All About Jazz

All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Pay $20 and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page, plus this box and the slideout box on the right for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.


I want to help
374

John Scofield at Jazz Cafe, London

Frederick Bernas By

Sign in to view read count
John Scofield Trio + Horns
Jazz Cafe
London, England
March 29, 2008


How to begin a review of a concert at which one's musical outlook has been picked up, shaken about, flung around haphazardly and finally set back down in a completely different state?

John Scofield has enjoyed a rich and varied career, the nature of which is aptly mirrored in his guitar playing. Material from his latest album, This is That (Emarcy, 2008), was the subject of his two-night stand at London's Jazz Cafe. The occasion was an increasingly rare instance of the venue living up to its name: jazz doesn't get much more serious than this.


Scofield's classic trio format, with stalwart sideman Bill Stewart on drums and bassist Matt Penman ably deputising for Steve Swallow (who plays on the album), was augmented by a three-piece horn section. This textural color added another wonderful dimension to the guitarist's already intricate musical language. Whether providing sharp stabs of sound on "Heck of a Job" or smoother, elegant chords on a number such as "Shoe Dog," the arrangements were perfectly fitted. This exciting orchestral resource could have been easily overused, but Scofield's playing remained at the forefront while the core trio was never crowded out. Though never intrusive, the unusual orchestration remained vivid and unpredictable at the same time.



As for the man himself, he possesses one of the most unique guitar voices in modern music. Its bendy brilliance, from twisted country to straight-up bebop and funk-drenched wah effects, represents an eclectic yet historically comprehensive journey for the active listener. The layers of altered harmony which spring up between passages of blues, bop or casual swing can sound strange and unusual but never wrong or misplaced. Think Wes Montgomery crossed with Jimi Hendrix—and that's not even half of the story.



As a creative concept, Scofield's music is highly accessible for devotees of all the aforementioned genres—as the Jazz Cafe's booking manager would no doubt testify. When Scofield steps out to centre stage, his epic facial contortions matching the howl of his electric guitar, there is something undeniably rock'n'roll about this balding 56-year-old from Ohio.


Shop

  • Simply Put
    Simply Put
    John Scofield
    A Moment's Peace
  • Slinky
    Slinky
    John Scofield
    New Morning: The Paris Concert
Extended Analysis
CD/LP/Track Review
Rediscovery
CD/LP/Track Review
Live Reviews
Extended Analysis
Rediscovery
Read more articles
Country for Old Men
Country for Old Men
Impulse!
2016
buy
John Scofield: Country for Old Men
John Scofield:...
Impulse!
2016
buy
Past Present
Past Present
Impulse!
2015
buy
Überjam Deux
Überjam Deux
EmArcy
2013
buy
A Moment's Peace
A Moment's Peace
EmArcy
2011
buy
Metropole Orkest / John Scofield / Vince Mendoza: 54
Metropole Orkest /...
EmArcy
2010
buy
Pat Metheny Pat Metheny
guitar
Bill Frisell Bill Frisell
guitar
Charlie Haden Charlie Haden
bass, acoustic
Jim Hall Jim Hall
guitar
Gary Burton Gary Burton
vibraphone
Mike Stern Mike Stern
guitar
Charlie Hunter Charlie Hunter
guitar, 8-string
Leni Stern Leni Stern
guitar
Soulive Soulive
band/orchestra

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.