Another album, another band, another chance for the restless, itchy guitar player in his mid-twenties and who was seemingly always seeking renewed challenges to catalyze his youthful bursts of testosterone; because, and as the title suggests, “Rough House” proposes no effortless solutions; fresh from a series of high-profile collaborations such as an extended stint with the George Duke/Billy Cobham band or a participation in a Charles Mingus project, here is Scofield with his, already at the time, instantly recognizable, slightly distorted semi-acoustic guitar tone, extraordinaire ability to improvise intelligent and thoughtful, yet brimming with excitement and passion ,lengthy and inventive solos and owner of an articulate and sharp phrasing that made each note sing.
The album consists of 5 Sco compositions and the vigorous and exuberant “Triple Play” (with its head stated in unison by guitar, piano and bass, hence the title, and which Sco channels into a Rhythm & Blues inflected section where he can explore alternative instincts) written by seasoned pianist, and the band’s senior member Hal Galper, whose style bears strong McCoy Tyner references and who albeit showing a tendency to double-time tranquil solos that don’t seem to be his terrain of election, strongly contributes to the interactive dynamism of the 4tet which also counts with bass player Stafford James, and the 22 years old Adam Nussbaum, the group’s junior then at career start but owner of valuable arguments and who knew both how to trade bars with the band as on “Ailleron” and how to maintain exciting duet conversations with the leader at airplane speed as on “Air Pakistan”.
Putting his Funky instincts on hold - but not the biting edge-, Sco penned a post-bop motivated set, brisk and turbo-charged as on the title track or “Ailleron”, or flirting with more or less translucent, delicate and introspective leanings as on “Alster Fields” and “Slow Elvin”, ambiances he caresses, nurtures and excites with tasty bends, fragile trills, inspired flourishes and snappy meaningful licks.
Flawless, entertaining, classy, vigorous and finger-snapping this seems to be a rather obscure album in Scofield’s discography as I’ve just noticed when opening his RYM page; yet it’s worth every penny you’ll pay for it either you’re a fan of his peculiar style or just a lover of guitar lead serious and juicy music.
- "Rough House"
- "Alster Fields"
- "Slow Elvin"
- "Triple Play"
- "Air Pakistan"