John Scofield: New Morning - The Paris Concert

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
John ScofieldJohn Scofield
New Morning: The Paris Concert

There once was a time when it was nearly impossible to keep up with your favorite artist because, back in the pre-internet Stone Age, you had to rely on less regular media and word of mouth. Nowadays, between internet and social media, it's become easy to know what that artist is up to, because if he burps, you can read about it somewhere. A great thing, in principle, but the problem we have now is that there's so much information to assimilate on a second-by- second basis, that we still find it impossible to keep up. Artists often tour with groups that never see the light of day on commercial CD; just check the Tour Page for guitarist John Scofield, and it's clear that, even if you've picked up each and every release he's put out since 1977's John Scofield (Venus), there are a whole lot of groups that you've never heard of, much less heard.

Fortunately, the good folks at Germany's Inakustic—responsible for a fine series of live DVDs recorded at New Morning—were in-house at the heralded Parisian club when Scofield was on tour with a quartet of players that included one old friend (drummer Bill Stewart), one new friend (bassist Ben Street) and one ultra-new friend (pianist Michael Eckroth, fresh out of school and visiting Paris for the first time). Recorded in High Definition, New Morning: The Paris Concert captures Scofield during one of his "jazz" tours, with his New Jazz Quartet—meaning this ain't the jam band groove of Überjam (Verve, 2002), the N'awlins gospel of Piety Street (EmArcy, 2009) or the soul-drenched tribute of That's What I Say: John Scofield Plays the Music of Ray Charles (Verve, 2005)—fine albums all, but if those discs skirt around it, this performance is absolutely in the jazz tradition.

New Morning is two-plus hours (including the bonus "Soundcheck Sketches," where Scofield is interviewed over footage from the group's sound check) of material culled from three of his earlier records, a bunch of new music, and a few standards—including one, "I Want to Talk About You," that foreshadows Scofield's A Moment's Peace (Emarcy), released in Europe in the spring of 2011, and in North America, the fall of the same year.

The quartet is in tremendous form. Stewart, who dates back to the early 1990s with Scofield and tremendous modern mainstream records like Meant to Be (Blue Note, 1991), has always been a drummer of a distinctly melodic bent; here, he's swinging as hard as ever on the quartet's incendiary version of Charlie Parker's "Steeplechase," and takes a solo of such focused construction that the form remains crystal clear underneath. Swing is also the key on "Hive," a Scofield original first heard on Works for Me (Verve, 2000), though the chart is knottier, with a mindblowing start/stop ending. While he's come a long, long way since his early recordings, Scofield proves here, and throughout the performance, that he's still capable of the same unbridled fire and youthful unpredictability that made Live (Enja, 1977) and Rough House (Enja, 1978) such a potent combination punch back in the day.

Street is an in-demand bassist who's worked with a slew of important guitarists, from Kurt Rosenwinkel and Ben Monder to up-and-comers like Lage Lund and Steve Cardenas. If there's anything specific a bassist needs to work with contemporary guitarists that experiment tonally as much as they do melodically or harmonically, then Street certainly demonstrates it on "Lost Found & Inbetween," one of a handful of compositions either new or, at least, newly recorded, from the guitarist's pen. A "changes, no time" piece that begins with Scofield alone—but, augmented with his array of effects pedals, sounding more like two guitarists— Streets' accompaniment, when the ascending pattern that provides the song its axis is rallied, combines brief suggestions of time with Stewart but, more importantly, a driving undercurrent over which Scofield builds an oblique solo, before giving way to Eckroth, who proves just how much can be made of the sketchiest of musical directions.


Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read The Who At The Isle of Wight Festival 2004 DVD/Film Reviews The Who At The Isle of Wight Festival 2004
by Doug Collette
Published: June 3, 2017
Read Fathom Events Presents "The Grateful Dead Movie" DVD/Film Reviews Fathom Events Presents "The Grateful Dead Movie"
by Doug Collette
Published: April 30, 2017
Read I Called Him Morgan at Belfast Film Festival 2017 DVD/Film Reviews I Called Him Morgan at Belfast Film Festival 2017
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 4, 2017
Read I Called Him Morgan by Kasper Collin DVD/Film Reviews I Called Him Morgan by Kasper Collin
by Christine Connallon
Published: March 24, 2017
Read Bill Frisell: A Portrait DVD/Film Reviews Bill Frisell: A Portrait
by John Kelman
Published: March 14, 2017
Read "Bill Frisell: A Portrait" DVD/Film Reviews Bill Frisell: A Portrait
by John Kelman
Published: March 14, 2017
Read "Bill Evans:  Time Remembered The Life And Music Of Bill Evans" DVD/Film Reviews Bill Evans: Time Remembered The Life And Music Of Bill...
by Peter Jurew
Published: November 12, 2016
Read "Rolling Stones - Ole Ole Ole!: A Trip Across Latin America" DVD/Film Reviews Rolling Stones - Ole Ole Ole!: A Trip Across Latin America
by Doug Collette
Published: December 18, 2016
Read "Jimmy Scott: I Go Back Home" DVD/Film Reviews Jimmy Scott: I Go Back Home
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: September 12, 2016
Read "The Anatomy of Vince Guaraldi" DVD/Film Reviews The Anatomy of Vince Guaraldi
by Marc Davis
Published: December 16, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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