Saturday, October 3, 2015

John Scofield - 1987 "Pick Hits-Live"

Pick Hits Live is a live album by the jazz musician John Scofield.

One of guitarist John Scofield's best sessions for Gramavision, this live date features his regular band of the period, a quartet with keyboardist Robert Aries, electric bassist Gary Grainger and drummer Dennis Chambers, who had been playing together regularly for a year at that point. The close communication between the musicians on such numbers as "Pick Hits," "Protocol" and "Blue Matter" could only come from the players fully understanding each other's musical personalities. The music, electric but adventurous, funky but definitely exploratory jazz, is difficult to describe, but easier for Scofield's fans to enjoy.

This album documents a 1987 Tokyo concert when, in Scofield's words, "the band and the audience came together and developed a special momentum of their own that only happens on our best nights." All of the stops are out here, as such favorites as "Thanks Again," "Blue Matter" and "Heaven Hill" are taken to new levels of intensity. Featuring the Robert Aries/Gary Grainger/Dennis Chambers rhythm section that had spent the previous year touring with Scofield and perfecting their take-no-prisoners approach to his music.

This cd is absolutely a milestone in jazz music. As much so as Miles Davis'or John Coletrane's contributions to the change in the landscape and direction of jazz, John Scofields genious on this recording shines. Also the stellar, and at times unbeleiveaable performances of the finest rhythm section to walk the earth: Jim Beard on keys, Gary (not Tim) Grainger on Bass and Dennis Chambers on drums. It just doesn' get any better than this! This recording is a 'must-have' for any serious jazz musician.....period!

The cd, recorded live in Japan, features John Scofield's hottest band, with the amazing Dennis Chambers on drums, and Tim Granger on Bass. The songs come mainly from Blue Matter and Still Warm, both seminal Scofield. Scofield himself tears up the fretboard. But don't expect mindless pyrotechnics. His phrasing is pure jazz, more idiomatic to the sax than the guitar at times. To see Dennis Chambers live is a rare treat. Hearing him drum here is a humbling experience. The double bass work alone is a clinic for aspiring drummers. The band is amazingly tight, navigating time signatures and breaks adroitly. The dynamic range of the band makes each song a much more visceral experience than the studio versions.

This man plays many styles and has played with many great musicians, but this live set is his best. The band is awesome especially the drummer Dennis Chambers. Gary Grainger on bass and Robert Aires on keyboards fill out this outstanding quartet. The first two cuts are fusion, the 3rd "Heaven Hill" is a blues number, which any blues fan would love. On track 4, "Protocol" this thing starts to cook and it doesn't stop until the end of "Trim." The rhythm section puts down an incredible beat that is the perfect background for some of the best fusion guitar this side of Mahavishnu.

Track 7: "Trim" is one of the best fusion tunes you will ever hear, it is 17 minutes of WOW. This is the one that makes having this CD necessary. "Georgia On My Mind" slows things down for a little while John solos on this classic song. "Make Me" is the perfect way to end this set. This is the way fusion is supposed to sound and leaves you wanting more. John plays classic jazz, funk, fusion, grove, and some smooth jazz: He never sounded better than he does here however. This is a 5 star, must have jazz classic.

Track listing

1.    "Pick and Pans"
2.    "Pick Hits"
3.    "Heaven Hill"
4.    "Protocol"
5.    "Blue Matter"
6.    "Thanks Again"
7.    "Trim"
8.    "Georgia On My Mind"
9.    "Make Me"


    John Scofield - guitar
    Robert Aries - keyboards
    Gary Grainger - bass guitar
    Dennis Chambers - drums

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