This Meets That – John Scofield
Its often said that familiarity breeds contempt. This concept applies to many different elements of the human condition relationships, work, daily routines in general but, when suited to musicians, the idea strikes a different chord all together. In a creative sense, they must evolve to keep things interesting for themselves and their audience. Throughout the histories of both popular and underground culture, many artists have washed away in failing to successfully change their creative landscape.
Not John Scofield. Over the course of his 30-year career, the prolific composer has dabbled in bebop, blues, funk, fusion, soul, Eastern idioms and electronic sampling. And, aided by his signature Ibanez, has carved out an instantly recognizable guitar tone in the process.
His latest effort, This Meets That, like many of his previous three-dozen albums, synthesizes his eclectic musical taste. Backed by bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Bill Stewart the same pair which lent their hands to 2004’s En Route: John Scofield Trio LIVE plus a horn section including tenor and baritone sax, bass clarinet, trombone, flutes, trumpet and flugelhorn, Scofield runs through lengthy jazz compositions (Strangeness In The Night) and even tries his hand at classic rock reconfiguration (Satisfaction, House Of The Rising Sun). The latter cover features fellow guitar innovator and former Bass Desires band mate, Bill Frisell. Fresh off a European tour together, the guitarists mesh comfortably and with ease, trading thoughtful solos and takes on the songs melodic riff. Scofield also reinterprets Charlie Richs country slow-burner, Behind Closed Doors, staying true to the songs emotional texture.
Helped by a small army of horns, the remainder of This Meets That fleshes out songs Scofield, Swallow and Stewart played together as a stripped-down trio. And they serve well. The brass adds necessary wrinkles to the New Orleans-leaning, Heck Of A Job, a wry jab at the governments post-Katrina blunder. Scofields team also explores the ever-expanding realm of free jazz (Pretty Out). Here, the horns really kick, trumpet and baritone sax doubling up the melody in succession.
This Meets That may indeed be familiar to Scofield, but it doesnt sound that way. It just sounds like hes having fun.