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John Scofield
ÜBERJAM
(VERVE)

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Like his two foremost fellow jazz guitar innovators, Pat Metheny and Bill Frisell, John Scofield can happily bounce among genres, blending them as he will, so his straightahead projects (2000s Works for Me) percolate with funk and his "groove"-oriented gigs (1997s A Go Go and 1999s Bump) flow with jazz harmonies, clever writing, and more ideas than youre probably used to from your standard jam band. überjam puts Scofields touring band on disc: rhythm guitarist Avi Bortnick, bassist Jesse Murphy, and drummer Adam Deitch, with some guest spots from MM&W keyboard man John Medeski. Scofield builds his tunes from riffs and short phrases that are as insinuating as any pop hook, and when the rhythmic landscape gets too cluttered he relieves it with long-lined, lyric asides. Scofields incapable of playing a clichéd lick so, as familiar as the procedures of überjam may be, it grows on the ear instead of wearing it out. Hes always had a sense of humor, and hes never more witty than when hes thwarting jam-band expectations his bent-note exclamations introducing the sarod samples of "Acidhead" are a wry goof on Harrison-inspired white-boy ragas, and a tune like "Ideofunk" has the organ-and-horn poppiness of a sit-com theme, while "Jungle Fiction" works drum n bass beats against a spacious guitar line. Using hip-hop and drum n bass as an excuse, Scofield has fun with every sound he can get his hands on, from tablas and mellotron to backwards tape, and a guitar voice that ululates with sonic filigree, from short, riff-like bursts to virtuoso runs.

(The John Scofield Band play the Paradise on Friday, February 22, with Club DElf, and on Saturday, February 23, with the Miracle Orchestra. Call 617-423-NEXT.)

BY JON GARELICK

Issue Date: February 14 - 21, 2002
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