Home » Jazz Articles » John Scofield: Works For Me

243

Album Review

John Scofield: Works For Me

By

Sign in to view read count
John Scofield: Works For Me
Today’s lesson is you cannot escape your past. Like Jay Gatsby at a Hampton’s society party, John Scofield’s roots in rock and R&B show themselves in his self-proclaimed “straight-ahead record” Works For Me. But this is not all bad news, since most of Mr. Scofield’s audience was bred in the rock vernacular. Besides he is coming back to his listeners after taking a dip into the jam-band phenomena on the 1999 Disc Bump, with its heavy beats and sampling menu and the excellent A Go Go (1997) where he was backed by groove favorites Medeski Martin & Wood. Scofield had found in MM&W the perfect Lucy to his Ricky act, but this disc was probably a one shot deal, as the trio have been starring in their own dramas of late.

This disc harkens back to two outings and several tours he did with Joe Lovano ten years ago. The Blue Note records Time On My Hands and Meant To Be pushed the guitarist out of the shadow of Miles Davis (his former employer) and into the role of mediator between the acoustic and the electric sides of jazz. His self-titles “Loud Jazz” gave way to a quiet assertiveness. Since then, he has fluctuated between soul-jazz and a Downtown sound. He signed with Verve and went on to make an acoustic guitar album, and the funky music described above.

Works For Me, while trying with all it’s might to be straight jazz, has rock and R&B at it’s core. Just as you wouldn’t ask Thelonious Monk to cover The Beatles or Sonny Sharrock to play Segovia, would you force Scofield to reject his fat rock roots. He employs other sons of rock, Kenny Garrett and Christian McBride. Garrett the former Miles Davis saxophonist from Miles’ Amandla days is comfortable in both the acoustic and electric worlds. His Coltrane tribute Pursuance featured Pat Metheny and spoke Trane’s lingo to the sons of the sons of the sixties. Bassist McBride who, although is a neoclassic jazz star, confesses his love for all things Earth, Wind, & Fire. The odd men out are the introspective pianist Brad Mehldau and former Ornette Coleman drummer (circa. 1958) Billy Higgins. Mehldau plays behind the beat on most solos, clinging to his acoustic sound, as one would tote a security blanket. The musically introverted pianist seems more comfortable with the likes of Mark Turner, Lee Konitz, and Charles Lloyd.

But tension in jazz makes for great art, and while Mehldau plays anchor and perhaps reference point for a more traditional jazz listener, Scofield practices his boisterous jazz. Take “Big J” with all it’s references to soul-jazz as Sco’s guitar mimics organ sounds. Then they run down the blues on “Heel To Toe” and with Higgins stoking the groove it’s back to grit-and gravy. They tackle a waltz dedicated to Scofield’s wife, and, like the “Six To Eight” a vehicle for Mehldau, Scofield’s extroverted sound breaks through. But, hey if you want a Jim Hall sound, go buy a Jim Hall record.

Personnel

John Scofield: guitar; Kenny Garrett: alto sax; Brad Mehldau: piano; Christian McBride: bass; Billy Higgins: drums.

Album information

Title: Works For Me | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Verve Music Group

Post a comment about this album


FOR THE LOVE OF JAZZ
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

WE NEED YOUR HELP
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

Tags

More

Calasanitus
Leon Foster Thomas
Playing With Standards
Seppe Gebruers
Heavy Hitters
The Heavy Hitters
Made in Miami
Camilo Valencia/Richard Bravo

Popular

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and includes upcoming jazz events near you.