As a leader, guitarist, and composer John Scofield has made many different kinds of records over the course of his long career, as well as played on dozens more as a sideman to people like Miles Davis and Charles Mingus, to mention just two. His last offering, and his first for Emarcy, was This Means That, an adventurous blend of straight-ahead blowing and funk-oriented numbers that worked beautifully and yielded a slew of critical acclaim. Piety Street is a different story altogether. Scofield has assembled a crack band of more roots and groove-oriented sidemen to cut his version of a gospel album..
Who's Who? is a studio album by American jazz musician John Scofield. It features two different bands, one acoustic and one electric. The acoustic group, featuring Scofield's then-employer Dave Liebman on saxophones, Eddie Gómez on bass, and Billy Hart on drums, recorded "The Beatles" and "How the West Was Won". The electric group, featuring future Kenny Kirkland on keyboards, Anthony Jackson on electric bass, Steve Jordan on drums, and Sammy Figueroa on percussion, recorded the balance of the album.
One of John Scofield's finest mid-1980s outings as a leader, STILL WARM finds the revered jazz guitarist settling into a set of funk-tinged fusion. The tight yet adventurous rhythm section of bassist Darryl Jones and drummer Omar Hakim allows Scofield to unfurl his impressively agile six-string lines, which can stray into rock and blues territory. Keyboardist Don Grolnick adds unexpected, sometimes downright strange textures to the compositions, reining in his quirky flourishes to wonderful effect on the delicately beautiful title track.
John Scofield owes a great deal to Medeski, Martin & Wood for the success of A Go Go. The piano/organ, bass, and drum playing trio adds a world of bouncing vibes to Scofield's inquisitive, happy guitar work here. A Go Go is an album of mostly breezy, sometimes tense, jam-based grooves. The album's charm is in its "city meets the tropics" feel. The four players create such a warm, vibrant sound that resisting the urge to tap one's feet along with the beat becomes a near impossibility. The opening song is a treat of plucked guitars and tightly packed new jazz. Other standouts are "Kubrick," a swooning, gentle change of pace packed with background tension, and "Hottentot," a tour de force of dynamic interplay. There's nary a moment of filler to be found across the ten tracks..
When guitarist Bill Frisell first began a more decided focus on roots music, bluegrass and country & western music with the release of 1996's Nashville (Nonesuch), despite being largely very well-received, jazz purists rankled when the largely bluegrass/folk-informed album began to garner awards like Downbeat Magazine's Best Jazz Album of the Year. While Frisell's oftentimes Americana-tinged work has, in the ensuing years, become more fully accepted for the wonderful music that it is, fellow six-stringer John Scofield is unlikely to find himself the subject of such purist criticism with Country for Old Men.