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jaZZ & beyond Improvised Music Festival 2018: Individualism


22 November 2013 time 20:00 | Kinoteatr Rialto, ul. Św. Jana 24, 40-012 Katowice


John Scofield – guitar
Avi Bortnick – guitar
Andy Hess – bas guitar
Louis Cato – drums

Tickets: 50 zł (standing) i 60 zł (sit)

It is a rare artist that can play more than one style of music with true fluency, virtuosity and sincerity. John Scofield can, and he proves it on his new Verve release, Überjam. The album finds him confirming his reputation as a peerless jazz guitarist, while making groove and jam-oriented music at the highest level.

Born in Ohio and raised in suburban Connecticut, Scofield took up the guitar at age 11, inspired by both rock and blues players. A local teacher introduced him to Wes Montgomery, Jim Hall and Pat Martino, which sparked a lifelong love of jazz. Sco soon attended the Berklee College of Music, later moving into the public eye with a wide variety of bandleaders and musicians including Charles Mingus , Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Joe Henderson, Billy Cobham/George Duke, Gerry Mulligan, McCoy Tyner, Jim Hall, and Gary Burton. In 1982, he began a three-and-a-half-year stint touring with Miles Davis. Scofield’s compositions and inimitable guitar work appear on three of Davis’ albums.

Scofield began recording as a leader in the late 1970s, establishing himself as an influential and innovative player and composer. His recordings—many already classics—include collaborations with contemporary favorites like Pat Metheny, Medeski, Martin & Wood, Bill Frisell, Government Mule, and Joe Lovano. Through it all, the guitarist has kept an open musical mind.

Signing with Verve Records in 1995, Scofield released Quiet in 1996, A Go Go in 1997, Bump in 1999, and Works For Me in 2000. With the help of bandmates Avi Bortnick (guitar), Jesse Murphy (bass), and Adam Deitch (drums), Sco adds überjam to his varied discography.

The 11 original songs on Überjam showcase a group that explores diverse influences and styles while maintaining an irresistible groove. Launching with the eastern aura of “Acidhead,” easing into the languid “Tomorrow Land,” and ending with the super-funky climax of “Lucky For Her,” Überjam takes listeners on a modern journey of forward-thinking compositions and captivating improvisations by the Scofield band.

“I had to search high and low to find the right musicians to make this record with me. It took a long time to find them, but I know that these guys are the best I’ve played with in this idiom. It’s a pleasure to go to work every day.” Scofield elaborates: “I especially wanted to record with my band this time rather than make an ‘all-star’ record. The band has grown over the past three years and nothing compares with an entity that develops over time. We went into Avatar Studios and started recording immediately after a 40-concert tour and the band was really tight. With the additional inspiration of John Medeski and Karl Denson’s contributions, we were really cooking.”

Scofield continues: “Avi Bortnick is a rhythm guitar master. Between the two of us, we cover just about everything a guitar can and should do. It’s hard to find a player who likes laying in the groove while I play endless solos! When Avi expressed an interest to get into sampling a few years back, I never realized that he would quickly turn into the electro-magician that he is today!” Bortnick was born in Israel and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. He attended the University of California, Berkeley, studied at the University of Sao Paulo, and later completed a graduate program in architectural acoustics at the University of Florida, Gainesville. In fact, Scofield had to steal him away from his day gig at a California-based architectural firm.

Of bass player Jesse Murphy, Scofield says: “Jesse is the most intuitive and like-minded bass player that I’ve played with in a long time. He is truly eclectic musically; he knows and appreciates so many different styles. He has the perfect temperament for a bassist—boundless energy blended with the directed focus of a traffic cop. That’s very hard to find and essential for a good band!”

When asked about the newest band member, drummer Adam Deitch, Sco says: “I’ve worked with all kinds of great drummers but I knew I found the right guy the first time I played with Adam. He’d been anchoring down the current version of the Average White Band, which tells you something about his groove. He throws ideas at you all night long.”

“We’ve had a great time playing for a broader and often younger audience with this material. They really know about music, they really listen, and their enjoyment is infectious. I get a real kick watching my audience dance while knowing that this holds up as jazz—it’s not just dance music.”

Scofield says that “the music on Überjam may be the kind of music I feel most comfortable with. I started with jazz-rock 30 years ago and the great thing about this music is that it’s still evolving. When confronted with the ‘Who is John Scofield’ question, I like to oversimplify it by saying that ‘I like rock and jazz.’”

He continues: “Almost every interviewer asks me about my past experience with Miles Davis. I have to say that out of all the albums I’ve made, I think this is the one that Miles would have enjoyed the most. Miles’ spirit is in this music. He was always looking to take jazz to a new place.”