Works for Me

COMPOSERS: John Scofield
LABELS: Verve
PERFORMER: John Scofield (g), Kenny Garrett (as), Brad Mehldau (p), Christian McBride (b), Billy Higgins (d)
CATALOGUE NO: 549 281-2

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Guitarist John Scofield has spent a lot of time in the studio over the past two or three years making music that updates the groovy soul jazz of the Sixties. Works for Me is a return to more sophisticated straightahead jazz but without the clanging contrariness that is his trademark.

The sidemen here are well chosen for their taste and restraint. And considering that the rehearsal consisted of a quick rundown of the (all new) tunes, as Scofield describes it, it’s amazing how comfortable they sound together. Pianist Brad Mehldau has a gentle approach that chimes well with Sco’, whether he is making subtle chord shapes in the background or developing a fragile, fluttering two-handed solo line.

The sweet and sour voice of Kenny Garrett’s alto is (uncharacteristically) mellow and his deft shadowing of Scofield’s guitar describes an easy empathy between the two. The session is lifted to a yet higher level by the rhythm section. Higgins’s fizzing cymbal sound is mesmeric and McBride’s tasteful, refined bass flatters all around him.

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If Works for Me does signal the start of a new era for Scofield, long may it last and let’s have another from this line-up soon. Garry Booth