Monday, December 14, 2015

John Scofield - 1990 "Time On My Hands"

John Scofield has turned the corner from journeyman jazz guitarist to become one of the most inventive and witty players on the contemporary scene. This date, his first for the Blue Note label, builds on a discography following several recordings for the Gramavision label, and also progresses this contemporary jazz music into an individualism that can only bode well for his future efforts. Teamed with the rising-star saxophonist Joe Lovano and the bulletproof rhythm team of bassist Charlie Haden and drummer Jack DeJohnette, Scofield is emerging as a player of distinction on the electric guitar, and a composer whose mirthful ideas add spark and vigor to his newfound musical setting. In this co-production with Peter Erskine, Sco has found his melodic stride in making music that is bright and clever without being overly intellectual, retaining a soulful quality enriched by the deep-rooted, bluesy tenor sax of Lovano. What is most refreshing is that this music has broken free of clich├ęs from the earlier original fusion movement, and what Scofield might have accomplished prior. "Farmacology" is an excellent example of this, more in the hard bop vein and echoing both ringing country twang and the unique voicings of Ornette Coleman. There's rambling neo-bop and good-time fun in the unison of guitar and tenor sax during "Wabash III," a lighter, elegant, but free and melodic tone in 6/8 time for "Flower Power," and squeaky clean, sweet, easygoing swing demonstrated on "Since You Asked." Haden and DeJohnette are so well matched as a rhythm team that it's easy to take them for granted, while hard to ignore their brilliance. They load up on New Orleans-style blues while Scofield doles out amusing and fractured lines for "So Sue Me," collectively move to a sleek and sneaky stance on "Let's Say We Did," and rip up a driven, forceful neo-bop for the linear melody of the witty "Stranger to the Light." Even though it's a first-time issue on CD, there are three bonus tracks, including the soul song shuffle "Time and Tide," a free, loose association that identifies "Be Hear Now," and the big-time, rock & roll-flavored, squawky "Fat Lip." It's hard to fathom this being anything other than a sustainable new direction for Scofield's music, one that he can enhance as bandmembers come and go in the not too distant future.

From the opening be-bop tune "Wabash III" to the acoustic(!) fushion-ish "Fat Lip", Scofield's amazing depth in both composition and technique are all on display on this 1989 outing. Lovano's passionate solos (check out "Let's Say We Did") shows why he is quite possibly the best tenor man of the last ten years. DeJohnette puts in his usual excellent work on the drum kit, but it is Charlie Haden who manages to outdo himself here. His dead-on bass lines nicely fills the void left by the lack of keyboards and stretches out without going too far on "So Sue Me".
Overall, a record that hits the mark in every aspect; a must purchase if you like the straight-ahead jazz side of John Scofield. Or if you like straight-ahead jazz at all, for that matter.  By A Customer.

I bought this album because it just... well... it was in a bargain bin. There. I've said it.
It just about took my head off, though. I've always loved Jack
DeJohnette, and Charlie Haden just seems to magically appear on so much that interests me. Joe Lovano is marvelous... but this mix confused me in concept - Scofield's electric style, the nature of the tunes, and acoustic bass (the no-brainer on this stuff would have been electric bass).
I've listened to it several hundred times now, and the fluidity, grit and warmth that Scofield puts behind a horn line is just amazing. Understated, but really powerful. And the DeJohnette and Haden work with it is prime.
I'd say get this, because it's WONDERFUL. But also, if you want to hear something a little different that a guitar can do while backing up a tenor - and playing off a tenor - check it out. I can't imagine being let down. By K. D. Jones.

IMHO, this fully deserves the praise heaped upon it. I've only heard one other Scofield/Lovano quartet session and, to my ears, it paled by comparison. Compositions penned by guitarists are often criticized for being too "guitaristic" in flavor and I'd agree that's a common enough syndrome, but not in this case. There's a wide range of moods and plenty of listening going on-- it never devolves into mere chopsmanship. All-star sessions that bring together "hot-shots" while great for product marketing, don't necessarily pan out in terms of musicality. No such problem here; no-one is coasting on their reputation. If your appetite is whetted merely by the line-up; go ahead and order this; odds are, you won't be disappointed.  By madaboutmusic.

Tracks Listing

1 Wabash II 6:20
2 Since You Asked Me 6:10
3 So Sue Me 5:58
4 Let's Say We Did 4:22
5 Flower Power 4:57
6 Stranger to the Light 7:27
7 Nocturnal Mission 4:13
8 Farmacology 6:40
9 Time and Tide [bonus track] 5:48
10 Be Hear Now [bonus track] 6:50
11 Fat Lip [bonus track] 3:45


    John Scofield - guitar
    Joe Lovano - saxophone
    Charlie Haden - bass
    Jack DeJohnette - drums 



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  3. I've had this for years. Scofield, Lovano, Haden and DeJohnette - it doesn't get much better than this. Thanks for the reminder to re-visit this savory delight.

  4. Thank you for helping out, great info.