Oh! the new recording by the quartet Scolohofo could have easily turned into a battle of egos where each member adapts a jam session mentality by trying to out play the other. Instead, this quartet which includes John Scofield, Joe Lovano, Dave Holland, and Al Foster is a lesson in musical chemistry. Individually, they are accomplished, but neither assumes the leadership role. "Oh!" is the quartet’s first recording, and their chemistry is what veteran jazz musicians try to drill into younger musicians. For example, that the music supersede their egos.
Each member contributes original material, and has a tune in which they stretch out. For example, Joe Lovano is known as a melodic tenor saxophonist, but throughout this recording he demonstrates his ability to play freely and recklessly.
He arranged "Oh!", the title cut. From the start it knocks the wind out of you. It’s sort of a contemporary bebop tune that is made funky by the exclusion of the piano from the rhythm section. The piano is replaced by the soulful strumming of guitarist John Scofield.
On The Winding Way" bassist Dave Holland’s introductory solo sounds as if he’s setting the foundation for a sappy ballad. But, just before you’re ready to skip to the next track Lovano and Scofield ambush the tempo. It turns out that Holland uses his solo to give his band mates the room to make their improvisational statement. Chances are "The Winding Ways" will be the one track that listeners will play repeatedly.
Drummer Al Foster and Lovano are joined at the hip on the ballad "Bittersweet". One cannot survive without the other. Foster, for example, has a knack for getting the best from saxophonists. Over the course of his career, he has served as the rhythmic core for such saxophonist as Joe Henderson, and Sonny Rollin. On "Bittersweet," his licks have the velocity of a wet dog shaking water off its coat. Throughout the recording he displays extra sensory perception, the instinctive ability to anticipate and respond imaginatively to a soloist every move.
"In Your Arms" and "Right about Now" are declarations that a ballad can be gothic, hip as well as sentimental.
"Oh!" is devoid of showboating. In fact, it sounds as if the group decided to use the recording as a reminder of how acoustic jazz should sound. Most importantly, it shows that the BlueNote record label hasn’t gone totally commercial. Acoustic jazz remains the label’s backbone.