Sunday, April 18, 2010
John SCOFIELD - A Go Go with Medeski Martin & Wood 1998
On A GO GO, Scofield teams with Generation X funksters Medeski, Martin and Wood for an album of greasy grooves and hip downtown sonorities. The leader's guitar and John Medeski's keyboards weave and sway in a laid back slink over the lazy, ringing back beats of Billy Martin. And just when you think the groove has bent and twisted to the verge of falling to pieces, bassist Chris Wood is the glue that holds it all together.
All ten tracks are Scofield originals but it was surely a group effort to develop such a deep pocket of funk. From the hip-hop of the opening title cut we get a sense that this is not your average jazz quartet. The James Brown-ish "Chank" captures an all new Scofield sound that's even more harsh and gritty than normal, as he scratches and twangs out a slinky intro to kick off the groove. Solos are kept at a conservative length throughout but that's not to say they're less intense. Check out Sco's tasty improv in the easy-groovin' "Southern Pacific" for a demonstration. His young cohorts provide some fiery moments as well, with Medeski and Martin both cranking out exciting solos on the bouncy "Hottentot."
On this particular studio date, Scofield is joined by Medeski, Martin and Wood, who provide the perfect setting for Scofields guitar work. The result is a funky jazz album of high calibre, which never loses the listeners interest. Tracks including Boozer, Jeep On 35 and Chank are amazingly funky thanks to the superior drumming of Billy Martin, whilst Southern Pacific has a more percussive feeling. There is not a single track on this disc that can be considered to be of a lesser standard. This high quality consistancy is welcome, as often MMW tend to adventure into realms that move beyond the groove and into the obscure.
If your after funky jazz in a small group environment, then you will be hard pushed to find any better an example than "A Go Go". This CD is thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish, remaining deceptively simple in its musical complexity, whilst delivering some truly first class contemporary jazz.
John Scofield's stature as a modern jazz master on electric guitar puts him in a sweet spot for this simmering, sexy collaboration with acid jazz pathfinders Medeski, Martin and Wood, Scofield's taut and spicy lines striking sparks against the soulful grooves pitched by drummer Billy Martin, keyboard colorist John Medeski, and bassist Chris Wood. Far from a cheap commercial shot, the leader's plunge into this reheated '60s style is appropriately redolent of its funk heritage and his own astringent command of sharp lyrical and smart harmonic asides.
By Sam Sutherland.
John Scofield- Electric and Acoustic Guitar, Whistle
John Medeski- Organ, Wurlitzer, Clavinet, Piano
Chris Wood- Acoustic and Electric Bass
Billy Martin- Drums, Tambourine
01. A Go Go 6:36
02. Chank 6:47
03. Boozer 5:27
04. Southern Pacific 5:14
05. Jeep on 35 4:31
06. Kubrick 2:14
07. Green Tea 5:12
08. Hottentot 6:46
09. Chicken Dog 6:22
10. Deadzy 2.41