All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

243

John Scofield: Works For Me

Mark Corroto By

Sign in to view read count
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.

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

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read Always Forward CD/LP/Track Review
Always Forward
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 15, 2018
Read The Music of Richard Whiting CD/LP/Track Review
The Music of Richard Whiting
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 15, 2018
Read Barefoot Dances and Other Visions CD/LP/Track Review
Barefoot Dances and Other Visions
by Jerome Wilson
Published: November 15, 2018
Read Twinscapes Vol. 2: A Modern Approach To The Dancefloor CD/LP/Track Review
Twinscapes Vol. 2: A Modern Approach To The Dancefloor
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 15, 2018
Read Talking with Charlie - An Imaginary Talk with Charlie Parker CD/LP/Track Review
Talking with Charlie - An Imaginary Talk with Charlie Parker
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 15, 2018
Read The Gene Krupa Quartet: Live 1966! CD/LP/Track Review
The Gene Krupa Quartet: Live 1966!
by Richard J Salvucci
Published: November 15, 2018
Read "Tokyo 1975" CD/LP/Track Review Tokyo 1975
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 11, 2018
Read "The Child in Me" CD/LP/Track Review The Child in Me
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: November 23, 2017
Read "Twinscapes Vol. 2: A Modern Approach To The Dancefloor" CD/LP/Track Review Twinscapes Vol. 2: A Modern Approach To The Dancefloor
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 15, 2018
Read "Moving Day" CD/LP/Track Review Moving Day
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 27, 2018
Read "The Dream Thief" CD/LP/Track Review The Dream Thief
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: October 19, 2018
Read "Murals" CD/LP/Track Review Murals
by Anya Wassenberg
Published: June 6, 2018