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Band Bio: Some jazz musicians are content to stay in their comfort zones, rarely changing from one album to the next. But not John Scofield. The influential guitarist is unafraid of challenges he thrives on them and rejects predictability. Queried about his ever-evolving style, Scofield shrugged, Its all me every recording that I make is representative of music that Im feeling at that time.
Ive found the most satisfaction and honesty by letting musical category and genre blur around the edges. Thats why his current Verve release, Works For Me, is a major departure from his last album. Recorded in 1999, Bump favored a gritty, groove-oriented blend of jazz, funk and rock. But Works For Me, produced by Richard Seidel, finds Scofield leading a straight-ahead jazz quintet that boasts Kenny Garrett on alto saxophone, Brad Mehldau on acoustic piano, Christian McBride on upright bass, and Billy Higgins on drums.
From the tranquility of Mrs. Scofields Waltz to the hard-swinging exuberance of Do I Crazy?, Works For Me is the epitome of straight-ahead post-bop jazz. Jazz doesnt get any more straight-ahead than Not You Again, a congenial number based on the chord changes of the well-known stand There Will Never Be Another You. Ever since the birth of bebop in the mid-1940s, the harmonies of popular standards have been a source of inspiration to jazz composers. Just as Miles Davis was thinking of the standard If You Could See Me Now when he wrote Half Nelson, Scofield uses There Will Never Be Another You to make a musical statement of his own. Scofield, however, doesnt perform any standards on Works For Me . Every song on the CD is a Scofield original, and his versatility as a composer is impossible to miss.
Boasting some of Scofields most lyrical playing, Mrs. Scofields Waltz is a thoughtful piece that the guitarist dedicates to his wife. Warm and affectionate, the song has a peaceful quality. A sense of calm also defines Love You Long Time, a mid-tempo item with an inviting melody. Heel To Toe is the CDs most bluesy offering, Hive its most angular, and the intriguing, Loose Canon underscores Scofields inclination for rhythmic hooks. Those who dont know a lot about Scofields background may be surprised that he would follow an album as funky and groove-oriented as Bump with a project as straight-ahead as Works For Me. But anyone who has followed Scofield's career over the years knows that diversity is one of his primary characteristics.
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