John Scofield – Überjam Deux

[rating=8.00]

scofieldumberjam Überjam Deux provides proof positive of the chemistry of John Scofield’s Überjam Band. Some ten years since they last worked together–actually under the moniker the John Scofield Band on Up All Night–this new studio set flows as effortlessly as the musicianship at its foundation.

The album begins in leisurely enough fashion with “Camelus,” a relaxed track that might not be wholly out of place on a set of more straight-ahead pieces like Sco’s last recording A Moment’s Peace. The group begins to dig a groove on the aptly titled “Boogie Stupid,” as guitarist/sampler Avy Bortnick, co-writer with Scofield of most of the material here, brings his quick flickers of rhythm guitar nearly to equal prominence as the lead guitar (he’s even more insistent on “Al Green Song”).

Meanwhile, Andy Hess’ bass forms a foundation upon which the whole band can rest, allowing drummer Adam Deitch to play more lightly than he usually does. “Endless Summer” is one of six cuts to which John Medeski lends color and soul, his funky organ comping here offset by the way Scofield bends the notes he squeezes from his own instrument. Meanwhile, drummer Louis Cato reinforces the straightforward playing of his comrades.

Here too is where the track sequence of Überjam Deux kicks in as Scofield and co rocks handily along here before accelerating to a similarly styled, but slightly more upbeat, “Dub Dub.” Meanwhile, the Jamaican influence on “Cracked ice,” widens the dance floor scope of this nouveau jazz-fusion music as epitomized by the R&B of “Torero.” Recorded with as much warmth as clarity by engineer extraordinaire James Farber, Überjam Deux is the end result of a recording studio turned into a veritable hothouse, nurturing to vibrant life tunes such as the ever-so-slightly ambient closer “I Don’t Want to be Lonely.”

While such material wills no doubt flower even further when Scofield and his comrades take it to the stage, the beauty of Überjam Deux is that the record will stand on its own terms apart from those inevitable live transformations.

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