John Scofield - Combo 66

Review John Scofield - Combo 66

Where did I end up, one asks oneself, if you start with the first song "Can’t Dance" without looking first who is on this download. The guitar and organ swing along with bass and drums in the best 70's style along a simple melody that invites the nostalgic to hum along and has enough momentum and drive to drive straight into the legs. The melody instruments guitar and organ create a bright, crystalline sound, which is due not least to the organ’s restrained bass registering, optimally adapting to the by nature bright guitar sound of the seventies. The four-man band sounds out of one piece made and the guitar surrounds the sound textures at any time with dazzlingly clean finger technology as a herd dog his flock together. With heavily reduced drive, the four musicians plunge into the "Combo Theme", opened by the bass, in which the organist is transformed into a pianist who builds this song in the style of country rock and jazz blues and who next to the relatively freely acting bass ensures that this song sounds decidedly closer up to date than the first song.

We owe the excursion to the 1970s to none other than the guitarist John Scofield, who then was in his twenties and after finishing his jazz studies at the Berklee College of Music just of starting his career seriously, which he did successfully by filling in at short notice for the guitarist in a concert with Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker in the Carnegie Hall. His breakthrough came as a member of the Billy Cobham / George Duke band. He then worked with numerous well-known jazz musicians such as Charles Mingus, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Joe Henderson, Pat Metheny, McCoy Tyner, Bennie Wallace and Jim Hall. Since the late 1970s, he toured in a trio with Steve Swallow and Adam Nussbaum. A highlight of his career was the collaboration with Miles Davis under the star of Funk Jazz, to which he devoted himself extensively over the coming years together with the saxophonist Joe Lovano. For many, Scofield is considered alongside Bill Frisell and Pat Metheny as the most important jazz guitarists since Wes Montgomery.

On the new album Combo 66 you will find the multiple Grammy winner Steve Swallow around his newly formed quartet with Bill Stewart, drums, Gerald Clayton, piano and organ and Vicente Archer on double bass. After the two introductory songs, the four with "Icons at the Fair" plunge with full dedication and high enthusiasm into Herbie Hancock’s arrangement of Simon and Garfunkel's "Scarborough Fair". At least peripherally close to country and blues, the quartet presents "Willa Jean", "Uncle Southern" and "Dang Swing". Things are rocking in "New Waltzo", before the vehemence of rock is translated into calmer realms in "I'm Sleepin '" to finally lose momentum in "Ringing Out" before with "King of Belgium" the band finally enters the finale, whose humorous mood is reminiscent of Toots Thielemans, who was known in jazz circles not only for his great harmonica playing, but also for his pronounced sense of humor.

Rarely one once again one will experience such a stylistically wide-ranging, variable-color quartet playing like on Combo 66, which unfolds its entire sonority when played back as high-resolution download.

John Scofield, guitar
Gerald Clayton, piano
Vicente Archer, bass
Bill Stewart, drums

John Scofield - Combo 66

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