Bump

COMPOSERS: John Scofield
LABELS: Verve
PERFORMER: John Scofield (el g, ac g), David Livolsi, Chris Wood, Tony Scherr (b), Eric Kalb, Kenny Wollesen (d), Johnny Durkin (congas), Johnny Almendra (perc), Mark De Gli Antoni (sampler)
CATALOGUE NO: 543 430-2

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The late club proprietor and saxophonist Ronnie Scott used to attract the attention of an excitable audience by tapping on the end of his mike and calling, ‘Quiet please. You’re not here to enjoy yourselves.’ He was joking, but too often jazz players forget that the music can be fun and meaningful.

Guitarist John Scofield understands that and has the resourcefulness to pull it off on both counts. Bump is a set of 12 bite-size originals that borrow heavily from Seventies soul and country rock. Scofield makes this unlikely combination work by keeping the irony levels low and constantly straying from the obvious in his improvised lines.

The stand-out tracks in this department are the openers: a funky drumbeat and four-on-the-floor bass line provide the running gear for Sco’s clanging chords in ‘Three Sisters’; ‘Beep Beep’ is like a warped Steely Dan instrumental; ‘Kelpers’, with its trashy wah-wah signature, could be used for the caper scene in a blaxploitation movie.

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Analyse it and call it retro or post-modern, but in the end it is simply unpretentious, groovy jazz. Garry Booth