John Scofield

EnRoute

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Following a series of coruscating servings of progressive uber funk for Verve, Scofield stripped down to a trio for this live session at New York's Blue Note club in December 2003. He hooked up with a pair of old friends, the terrific loose-limbed drummer Bill Stewart, and the tense, nimble bassist Steve Swallow, and the three go after each other in some often-furiously busy, driving, tangled interplay, defying the frigid New York weather of that period. Denzil Best's "Wee" gets a scorching, asymmetrical workout to start, and Swallow's "Name That Tune" promptly goes into super overdrive, with Scofield darting all over the place in his idiosyncratic way. "Hammock Soliloquy" varies between another of Scofield's irresistible, laid-back, country tunes and more combustible high-speed interplay, while "Bag" ain't nothin' but the blues with a volatile groove. A highly-convoluted trip through "It Is Written" precedes -- and partially pre-echoes -- a quiet ballad-tempo rendition of the Bacharach/David tune "Alfie." The closest thing to the jazz/funk jams of Scofield's recent past is an 11-minute closing workout called "Over Big Top" -- a paraphrase of "Bigtop" from his Groove Elation album -- churning and driving relentlessly. Leaning more toward Scofield's jazz side per se, this high-energy outing should pass the time quite agreeably until he unleashes another of his jazz/funk groove-a-thons.

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