873

John Scofield: Piety Street

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
John Scofield: Piety Street Over the course of his four-decade career, guitarist John Scofield has maintained a successful dual career that alternates purer jazz with projects that skirt its edges and are aimed at a larger demographic. Not that there's anything wrong with that. His That's What I Say: John Scofield Plays The Music of Ray Charles (Verve, 2005) garnered critical and popular acclaim, keeping him on the road for the better part of a year, including a stellar performance in Gatineau, Quebec, near Ottawa, Canada, in October, 2005. After the exciting and stylistically assimilative This Meets That (EmArcy, 2007), Scofield turns to the blues/gospel-inflected Piety Street, a diversion for him, that's absolutely credible—and, in many ways, inevitable.



Scofield's blues roots have never sounded this good. With the rock-solid support of bassist George Porter Jr. and drummer Ricky Fataar, the album grooves with a comfortable, in-the-pocket vibe ranging from the buoyant "That's Enough," with Jon Cleary's wonderfully supportive piano work, to the ambling groove of the substantially rearranged "Motherless Child," one of vocalist John Boutte's best performances. The up-tempo "It's a Big Army" evokes images of deep south churches, with an entire congregation taken up by the sheer joy of the music, while the funky "His Eye is on the Sparrow" is driven by Fataar's visceral, behind-the-beat pulse. "Ship of Zion" is a slow, simmering blues that features a lengthy opening solo from Scofield filled with nuanced bends and gritty, Wes Montgomery-style octave work.



Scofield's playing may be, by necessity, more on the inside here, though he does take a few opportunities to create the kind of inside/outside tension-and-release that only he can, with his bop-inflected solo on "Motherless Child" a definitive performance that proves it's possible to cross-pollinate without losing the essence of the music. Jazz is a stylistic melting pot that, at it's best, dissolves borders and makes it possible to apply more sophisticated harmonies to even the simplest of changes. It's what makes Scofield's playing on Piety Street so captivating. He clearly knows the roots of the music and respects it; but equally he stretches it ever so slightly, so that he never loses sight of his own distinctive personality. This may be a blues/gospel album, but it's played by a group capable of more adventurous music, and there's little doubt that this music will open up even further in performance, just as Scofield's Ray Charles tribute did.



A cross-over album, to be sure, but Piety Street fits comfortably into Scofield's broad and growing discography. For a guitarist who has meshed with the jamband scene, Norwegian Nu Jazz and R&B while remaining committed to more exploratory music, Piety Street is a logical and inevitable project. Sco's roots are as much in blues and funk as they are in jazz, and here he's delivered music as fun as it is substantial. Piety Street will appeal to the jazz contingent as much as it does those for whom it is their first encounter with this remarkable guitarist.


Track Listing: That's Enough; Motherless Child; It's a Big Army; His Eye Is on the Sparrow; Something's Got a Hold on Me; The Old Ship of Zion; Ninety Nine and a Half; Just a Little While to Stay Here; Never Turn Back; Walk With Me; But I Like the Message; The Angel of Death; I'll Fly Away.

Personnel: John Scofield: guitar; Jon Cleary: piano, keyboard, vocals; George Porter Jr.: bass; Ricky Fataar: drums; John Boutte: vocals; Shannon Powell: percussion.

Title: Piety Street | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: EmArcy


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Masters In Bordeaux CD/LP/Track Review Masters In Bordeaux
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 19, 2017
Read On Parade In Parede CD/LP/Track Review On Parade In Parede
by John Sharpe
Published: August 19, 2017
Read Good Merlin CD/LP/Track Review Good Merlin
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: August 19, 2017
Read I Believe In You CD/LP/Track Review I Believe In You
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 18, 2017
Read Morning Sun CD/LP/Track Review Morning Sun
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 18, 2017
Read The Conscience CD/LP/Track Review The Conscience
by John Sharpe
Published: August 18, 2017
Read "Desire & Freedom" CD/LP/Track Review Desire & Freedom
by John Sharpe
Published: January 25, 2017
Read "The Gil Evans Orchestra Plays the Music of Jimi Hendrix" CD/LP/Track Review The Gil Evans Orchestra Plays the Music of Jimi Hendrix
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: August 23, 2016
Read "The Picasso Zone" CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: December 11, 2016
Read "El Viaje" CD/LP/Track Review El Viaje
by James Nadal
Published: September 14, 2016
Read "Life. Love. Flesh. Blood." CD/LP/Track Review Life. Love. Flesh. Blood.
by Doug Collette
Published: July 1, 2017
Read "Double Mirror" CD/LP/Track Review Double Mirror
by Jerome Wilson
Published: July 8, 2017

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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