Three in two

By JON GARELICK  |  October 10, 2007

But as for that fucked-up stuff: at the Regattabar, he started his set with his own “Strangeness in the Night” — by his own account a blending of two different song ideas that include a loping, wry opening theme and a stretch of straight swing. Scofield is working his own new Emarcy release, This Meets That (the title itself is a reference to his ironic mixing of forms and genres), in which he augments his working trio with a small horn section. This means room for more formal shenanigans. “The Low Road” allows him to rip some unabashed nasty power chords over chunka-chunka syncopations, but it keeps breaking for sweet, rising intervals in the horns. Again, a second song has walked into the middle of the first — but it works: this meets that.

At the Regattabar, the essential drummer Bill Stewart held down the grooves while propelling the music with all manner of economical fills and rolls. This was the first night of the tour with the horns, and part of the fun was watching Scofield give instructions to them before each tune — and then seeing them nail it. For the first leg of the tour, Larry Grenadier is filling Steve Swallow’s bass chair. No problem.

And then, yes, there was Scofield’s own playing — his Cubist approach to funk jazz (those thirds), the fragmentary runs, the big, tart tone. His one extended free excursion (titled “Pretty Out,” natch) deployed backwards guitar effects, muted tones, and full-on noise before settling into another pastoral horn passage (it’s “out,” but also “pretty” — get it?). Sco always delivers for the guitar geeks, but he’s also really fun.

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