Oh! – Scolohofo
Blue Note Records 7243-5-42081-2-6
What to say about this disc? It would take some doing for the combination
of John Scofield, Joe Lovano, Dave Holland and Al Foster not to produce
worthwhile results. No worries: there’s enough musical knowledge and subtle
interplay here to keep anyone busy for a long time.
The Blue Note marketers pitch this as a "supergroup," but what we have, at
least on this debut CD, is a continuation of the Scofield early ’90s quartet
where Lovano shared the front line. Like that group’s outings (grab the
out-of-print What We Do while you can), Oh!, despite its
jovial title, offers erudite music that marks the final stage of bop’s
evolution, with hints of the ’60s free jazz and fusion adventures.
The rhythm section is a new element, but has Dave Holland ever fallen flat?
Like Lovano and Scofield, he’s a musician’s musician, able to both lay down
an ostinato-based foundation (as he does on "The Winding Way," one of his
compositions here) and contribute on the front line. The only complication
here is that, aside from Lovano’s periodic smears and somersaults and
Scofield’s occasional quirky effects, none of the three resorts to anything
obvious enough to suggest a flashy personality, and so it can take some
effort to come to grips with this music. Like most of their other efforts,
Oh! risks falling into the respected-more-often-than-listened-to
category, but each play brings the tunes further to light.
Perhaps this disc’s greatest public service is providing more of Al Foster’s
drumming. Most famous for some rather unrepresentative work (driving
Miles’s funk/fusion outings from ’72 to ’85), Foster has seen less of the
limelight that his Scolohofo colleagues. His light touch and impetuous
additions are worth a listen in themselves, and some periodic grunts from
his end of the stereo spectrum suggest that he did a lot to help his
bandmates enjoy the outing.
Oh! is a workout for the ears — the more attentively one listens,
the greater the rewards.