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A Go Go by John Scofield

There was some fuss in rec.music.makers.guitar.jazz when Scofield announced that he was going to make the next record with MMW, a hip new trio Martin, Medeski, and Wood on piano/keyboard, bass, and drums. MMW has so far been around the rock scene, recording with smaller labels and appearing in rock concerts. I had my own reservations upon hearing this. At that time I got a chance to see Scofield live with Seamus Blake on tenor, Kevin Hays on keyboards, Larry Grenadier on bass, and the venerable Bill Stewart on drums. I thought these guys rocked, and I had hoped that Scofield would bring them into the next recording session.

Instead, he chose MMW and told me that he would record with the other guys at a later date. The one with MMW would be funk, a change from what he's done before. "And change is good," he told me. On a first listen, Scofield was right. This is some really hard swinging, funky, on the beat music. The sounds blend together really well, although Martin's B-3 sound reminds me of Larry Goldings. But then again, the fat funky B-3 sound is now starting to become Scofield's signature sound.

The first two songs come straight off into a heavy funk-rock beat (notice the absence of the word 'jazz' here), with great interaction between the players. MMW strikes me as a more mature band despite their young age. As the first song started playing from my CD player, I had the weirdest feeling thinking that it was Pat Metheny playing. The melody just reminded me of the all-too-familiar metheny-esque lyricism. But then Scofield dives right into the signature distorted sound and I snapped back into reality. All in all, this sounds like a more energetic version of Scofield's "groovelation" album, with Dennis Chambers on drums. They settled into a more rock-based beat, unlike Bill Stewart's canny jazz shuffles. Without the big band from "groovelation", of course.

I've decided not to go to too much detail on this album and take all the fun and excitement away from you. It does have several songs where Scofield picks up the acoustic guitar for some chord playing, but no acoustic solo yet. As usual, Scofield is not your typical jazz, but as he said himself, "change is good."

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: John Scofield
  • CD Title: A Go Go
  • Genre: Soul / Funk Jazz
  • Year Released: 1998
  • Record Label: Verve
  • Musicians: John Scofield (electric and acoustic guitar, whistle), Billy Martin (drums, tambourine) John Medeski (organ, wurlitzer, clavinet, piano), Chris Wood (acoustic and electric bass) Favorite Song: A Go Go
  • Rating: Five Stars
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