Make a difference: Support jazz online

Support All About Jazz Your friends at All About Jazz are looking for readers to help back our website upgrade project. Of critical importance, this project will result in a vastly improved design across all devices and will make future All About Jazz projects much easier to implement. Click here to learn more about this project including donation rewards.

9

John Scofield's Country for Old Men at the Ardmore Music Hall

Mike Jacobs By

Sign in to view read count
John Scofield's Country for Old Men
The Ardmore Music Hall
Ardmore, PA
September 24, 2016

There are probably only are a handful of guitarists with a catalog as deep and stylistically diverse as John Scofield's. One of the obvious perils that these artists encounter when touring is facing an audience with fans from different stages of their careers—with different expectations. Short of doing an exhaustive retrospective every time out, this can almost guarantee a certain percentage of disappointed patrons—(see the ever-present few fans exiting a John McLaughlin concert bemoaning the fact that JM didn't cover any Mahavishnu material... again). Scofield side-steps this effect by naming his band and tour for his latest release Country for Old Men. This handily aligned the band and set list with audience expectations in one fell swoop.

But it also left room for many surprises. Those in attendance who may have known about Country for Old Men without yet having heard it, may have expected a Bill Frisell-like treatment of the source material (read John Kelman's album review), but Scofield's approach was all his own and satisfyingly displayed the strengths of the brilliant players on the bandstand.

Different ends notwithstanding, implicit in both Scofield and Frisell's use of disparate styles as vehicles for improvisation is their honest affection for the original items. This has played itself out in not only in Sco's many stylistic jaunts (Uberjam, Plays the Music of Ray Charles, Piety Street, etc.) but it also bleeds out from within his playing on most any of his albums. In this performance, this was also evidenced in the varied treatments of the songs and thus enabled easy migrations from a rocking faux-surf take on "Red River Valley," to a Coltrane- esque explosion of Hank Williams' "So Lonesome I Could Cry," to a lovingly straight rendering of "Mr. Fool," with no loss of sincerity. That sincerity was elevated by Scofield's near dry but warm guitar tone and amplified by an ever-emergent trait in his playing of late—a staggering eloquence in articulation.

But even with Mr. Scofield's deft playing and guidance, it was very clear that the night's feats of genre hopping and melding may have been awkward in the hands of lesser "Old Men." There are few rhythm sections more sympathetic or musical in their approach than the pairing of bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Bill Stewart and their contributions both as a unit and in their solo spots were indispensable. But, after Scofield, the evening's most expansive ventures belonged to keyboardist Larry Goldings. Largely known for his organ work with Scofield, the canvases supplied by tunes like "Jolene" and "Wayfaring Stranger" gave him great opportunity and latitude to avail himself on piano—much to the delight of those present

Though it may be just a tongue-in-cheek movie reference, the naming of the project "Country for Old Men," exemplified the night's show in more ways than just the material extrapolated on. It showed the mature virtues of finesse, subtlety and understatement offered by these "Old Men" could be as transformational as anything promised by the rebelliousness, vigor and ambition of youth.

Thankfully the large appreciative crowd at the Ardmore Music Hall showed it did not fall upon deaf ears.

Photo Credit: Rob Nagy

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read NYC Winter Jazzfest 2018 - The Friday Marathon Live Reviews NYC Winter Jazzfest 2018 - The Friday Marathon
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: January 22, 2018
Read Nels and Alex Cline at The Jazz Bakery Live Reviews Nels and Alex Cline at The Jazz Bakery
by Jonathan Manning
Published: January 22, 2018
Read David Lyttle & Andreas Varady at Bennigans Jazz Club Live Reviews David Lyttle & Andreas Varady at Bennigans Jazz Club
by Ian Patterson
Published: January 22, 2018
Read Never Alone: Reflections on the 2018 Winter Jazzfest Live Reviews Never Alone: Reflections on the 2018 Winter Jazzfest
by Tyran Grillo
Published: January 21, 2018
Read Tierney Sutton Band at the Newman Center Live Reviews Tierney Sutton Band at the Newman Center
by Geoff Anderson
Published: January 21, 2018
Read Vorcza at Nectar's Live Reviews Vorcza at Nectar's
by Doug Collette
Published: January 20, 2018
Read "Mat Maneri and Lucian Ban at Barbès" Live Reviews Mat Maneri and Lucian Ban at Barbès
by Tyran Grillo
Published: August 7, 2017
Read "Hermeto Pascoal at SFJAZZ" Live Reviews Hermeto Pascoal at SFJAZZ
by Harry S. Pariser
Published: April 21, 2017
Read "Monterey Jazz Festival 2017" Live Reviews Monterey Jazz Festival 2017
by Josef Woodard
Published: September 25, 2017
Read "Kongsberg Jazz Festival 2017" Live Reviews Kongsberg Jazz Festival 2017
by Henning Bolte
Published: August 17, 2017
Read "Gary Clark, Jr. and Jimmie Vaughan at the Iridium" Live Reviews Gary Clark, Jr. and Jimmie Vaughan at the Iridium
by Mike Perciaccante
Published: September 16, 2017