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ICON Suggests: John Scofield, ÜBERJAM DEUX

The proficient fusion master and boss guitarist John Scofield has been perfecting his brand of jazz/rock and fusion for more than 40 years, beginning with his early association with Miles Davis, who Scofield credits for keeping his sound both current and accessible.

“I’ve been interested in combining jazz with other rhythmic forms since I became involved in music. I was spurred on in this direction by my collaboration with Miles Davis among others,” says the guitarist in the press notes. “The music on Überjam Deux [Decca/Emarcy] is one of the styles I feel most comfortable with. If I were to tag a 'concept' for the band, it would be exploring different forms of groove music.”
Far more than reconvening a band charged with making a sequel to their first Grammy-nominated Überjam (2002), Scofield embraces the music he’s compelled to play by enlisting the impeccable rhythm guitarist and composer Avi Bortnick and former Average White Band drummer Adam Deitch to once again supply the riffs and the beats, respectively. It’s a top-notch effort that distills West African dance grooves (“Camelus” and “Snake Dance”), spacey electro riffs (“Boogie Stupid”), and dazzling, improvised R&B funk (“Cracked Ice”).

...rich with twitchy grooves mixed with infectious rhythms that are danceable and lots of fun.

Assisted by fellow groove engineers John Medeski on organ, Wurlitzer, and Mellotron, bassist Andy Hess and alternating drummer Louis Cato, Scofield amps up his groove-oriented style that was once best represented by A Go Go (Verve, 1998) and again on Bump (2000.) But Scofield has surpassed himself with this recording, thanks chiefly to Bortnick, who supplies killer samples and buzzy currents of sound on which Scofield hangs his innovative solos.

This adult, feel-good party album comes to an end too soon with an uplifting take on The Main Ingredients’ 1974 hit “Just Don’t Want To Be Lonely.” As Überjam Deux makes clear, Scofield creates compelling contemporary jazz just as well as his younger acolytes, and he and his band righteously celebrate all music that is good and funky. It's a set list that’s rich with twitchy grooves mixed with infectious rhythms that are danceable and lots of fun. (11 tracks; 61 minutes)

This article is from the September 2013 edition of ICON Magazine, the only publication in the Greater Delaware Valley and beyond solely devoted to coverage of music, fine and performing arts, pop culture, and entertainment. More Information.