JOHN SCOFIELD QUARTET
John Scofield, guitar
Larry Goldings, organ, piano
Steve Swallow, bass
Bill Stewart, drums
Michał Walczak: guitar
Michał Rorat: piano
Paweł Surman: trumpet
Bartek Bednarek: bass guitar
Frank Parker: drums
Tickets: 60 / 80 zł
John Scofield’s guitar work has influenced jazz since the late 70’s and is going strong today. Possessor of a very distinctive sound and stylistic diversity, Scofield is a masterful jazz improviser whose music generally falls somewhere between post-bop, funk edged jazz, and R & B.
Born in Ohio and raised in suburban Connecticut, Scofield took up the guitar at age 11, inspired by both rock and blues players. He attended Berklee College of Music in Boston. After a debut recording with Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker, Scofield was a member of the Billy Cobham-George Duke band for two years. In 1977 he recorded with Charles Mingus, and joined the Gary Burton quartet. He began his international career as a bandleader and recording artist in 1978. From 1982–1985, Scofield toured and recorded with Miles Davis. His Davis stint placed him firmly in the foreground of jazz consciousness as a player and composer.
Since that time he has prominently led his own groups in the international Jazz scene, recorded over 30 albums as a leader (many already classics) including collaborations with contemporary favorites like Pat Metheny, Charlie Haden, Eddie Harris, Medeski, Martin & Wood, Bill Frisell, Brad Mehldau, Mavis Staples, Government Mule, Jack DeJohnette, Joe Lovano and Phil Lesh. He’s played and recorded with Tony Williams, Jim Hall, Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock, Joe Henderson, Dave Holland, Terumasa Hino among many jazz legends. Throughout his career Scofield has punctuated his traditional jazz offerings with funk-oriented electric music. All along, the guitarist has kept an open musical mind.
Touring the world approximately 200 days per year with his own groups, he is an Adjunct Professor of Music at New York University, a husband, and father of two.
This is the debut album by the young Polish Jazz quintet BlackBird, which comprises of trumpeter Pawel Surman, guitarist Michal Walczak, pianist Michal Rorat, bassist Bartek Bednarek and US drummer Frank Parker. Veteran vibraphonist Bernard Maseli appears as a guest artist on a couple of tracks. The album presents seven original compositions (one of which is repeated four times), four by Walczak, two by Rorat and one by Bednarek. The album was recorded live and has a very good sound quality.
The music is dominated by the sound of the electric guitar and immediately falls under the typical Fusion imagery. The combination of lead guitar and trumpet, which was favored by early Jazz-Rock / Fusion artists, like Larry Coryell and his Eleventh House ensemble for example, was pretty dormant lately and the attempt by BlackBird to bring it back is very effective. With the guitar / trumpet lead balanced by the acoustic piano and the electric bass and drums pulsating vigorously, the overall sound of the quintet floats somewhere between Fusion and the Scandinavian ECM sound, which of course turns it immediately into a very likeable piece of music.
Once we have established that the album sounds great the question of course arises as to its musical contents, which is definitely not on the same level as the sound. The melodies are rather simplistic and a bit repetitive, which makes the album to sound like one continuous piece of music with very little diversity. Even the attempt to break the monotony by repeating the theme song four times does not help much. It´s not that the music is bad or anything, it just sort of stays in one place all the time. But of course this is only my personal opinion and others may find it completely misguided.
The personal performances by the quintet members are all quite adequate, although the guitar is definitely too loud and aggressive. For me Rorat delivers the most impressive solos, even if he is the most introvert and timid player herein. His piano strokes are a true joy throughout.
Overall this is a pleasant Fusion album, which many Fusion fans might find attractive and which sounds absolutely divine, but is hardly a brainer. Since it is a debut effort, things will probably improve with their next release, which I am impatiently waiting for already.
by Adam Baruch