COMPOSERS: John Scofield & Pat Metheny
LABELS: Blue Note
PERFORMER: John Scofield & Pat Metheny
CATALOGUE NO: CDP 8 27765 2
John Scofield’s collaboration with fellow guitarist Bill Frisell in Marc Johnson’s group Bass Desires provided some of the most rewarding moments of recorded jazz during the Eighties. Their success depended as much on integrity and musicianship as a collision of opposing styles.
Scofield and Metheny are a less obvious pairing, since both favour probing, linear styles. But there is a contrast, albeit less striking, in their different rhythmic approaches to improvisation. Scofield prefers ‘square’ phrases that sit on or behind the beat, while the mercurial Metheny frequently favours long, flowing lines that seem to push the groundbeat forward.
The title track, written by Scofield, uses a sinister, loping alla breve bass line, a legacy of his stay with Miles Davis in the mid-Eighties and a regular feature of his compositions. In contrast, Metheny’s surging ‘The Red One’ has a boppish theme contrasted by dramatic, heavy-metal chords and a soaring guitar-synth solo by the composer.
Throughout, both guitarists play with intensity and passion, but also a profound melodic logic that is the special province of the finest players in jazz. As Bass Desires were to the Eighties, then this album is among the finest to appear in the early Nineties. Stuart Nicholson