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John Scofield - John Scofield Band: Überjam CD (album) cover


John Scofield


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.97 | 14 ratings

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4 stars John Scofield established a name for himself as a jazz guitarist long before he seriously pursued a full-out solo career. He had played alongside Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny among scores of other artists and rock artists such as John Mayer and Gov't Mule. 'Uberjam' was released as The John Scofield Band and it contains several different styles of jazz influenced by electonica, funk, soul, r&b, rock and so on infused with jazz. Scofield has been known to experiment with many different styles, finding ways to meld them with jazz flavors, but sometimes has ventured far enough away from jazz to question whether he has left it all together. But he always returns. This might make you think that he is either unfocused or versatile, depending on how you look at it.

'Acidhead' starts with the psychedelic Indian sound with wordless vocals that matches the album cover. Eventually a smooth bass line and medium rhythm kicks in while guitar establishes the melody. A screechy sound counteracts the guitar as all players improvise over a funky backdrop. Nice effects and interesting sounds from the instruments turn this into an interesting opening track and prepares you for an exciting ride.

'Ideofunk' uses percussion and organ to establish the backdrop and a staccato-laden melody. A nice smooth groove eventually evokes a nice set of solos from various players including a wicked flute solo.

'Jungle Fiction' has a quick, tricky rhythm that will leave you guessing what meter it is in. But Scofield keeps a smooth guitar sound through the odd time signature which changes several times. Later, electronic and traditional drums trade off with a staccato keyboard and interesting sounding electronic effects. There is some nice and wild soloing and improvising going on in this one.

The next track takes a hip-hop funk route on 'I Brake 4 Monster Booty'. Scofield uses his signature sound effectively on this track with a heavy beat. A short rap by drummer Adam Deitch kicks in just before the 2 minute mark. I know it sounds corny, but it's actually a fun track with a lot of electronic effects that fit right in.

'Animal Farm' is a bit smoother, but has an underlying R&B drum-and-bass vibe. An interesting melody is introduced with a layered guitar that has a dissonant harmony. This also ventures into a bit of an experimental territory. There is a shaky sax riff in there too.

'Offspring' is a bit more conventional as far as a jazz fusion vibe, but with enough surprises of it's own to keep everything fresh. It has a Herbie Hancock feel at least in its interplay with an almost acid jazz format. This one also features one of the best guitar solos on the album, fast, quick and catchy. Later there is a quick percussion solo with some processed vocals.

'Tomorrow Land' slows the pace somewhat, with a softer rhythm section and a nice mellow jazz guitar. The track maintains the easy groove allowing Scofield to improvise freely.

Next is the title track 'Uberjam'. It starts out with a lot of electronic effects including the percussion. A fast paced funk pattern gets started and Scofield lays out a tricky melody which leaves room for backing instruments to show off a bit. Scofield definitely takes advantage of the track to do some tricky guitar work. Oh, and he throws the chorus of 'Blue Moon' in there if you listen closely. By the end of it all, it gets into quite an intense groove to wind it all up.

'Polo Towers' sets up a tricky rhythm section in which a layered sax lays down an unusual melody. A guitar break in the middle plays through some cool sounds and screechy textures. Later, the guitar and sax mirror each other and create a crazy vibe right at the end.

'Snap, Crackle, Pop' is another upbeat funk-fest with another great guitar solo with some unique sounds which were probably created by the electronics. The theme in this one doesn't quite match up to the faster rhythm, but that's only a minor problem. 'Lucky for Her' is the final track which ties everything up nicely in a final showcase of electronica and guitar.

In the end, it is understandable why this was released under The John Scofield Band name because the entire band makes this album what it is. But overall, it belongs to John Scofield who provides most of the solos, and to Avi Bortnick who is in charge of the electronica portion of the album, and who has a lot of say in the vibe of each track and who lays down the tricky rhythms and up-to-date sound. This is a very fun album with a lot of variety. On the surface, it may seem a little hokey, but it all pulls together nicely and leaves you feeling like you are listening to a very current recording.

John Scofield says that he like to think that Miles Davis would have loved this album because of the way it stretches Jazz fusion boundaries and how it sounds so current. Even though there are some progressive elements spread throughout the album, it is mostly just good funk fusion album and it is one that might even make you want to move around a bit. It is definitely more than just a background record, it is possibly even a party record if used in the right way, but I find that some of the tracks might be too experimental or progressive to be completely accessible. But it is definitely enjoyable and fun.

TCat | 4/5 |


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