Alastair Mabbott looks at Bowie’s return to Scotland. Also, the Cowboy Junkies and John Scofield.
LISTINGS: ROCK 31 JAZZ 35 FOLK 37 CLASSICAL 39
Kenny Mathieson talks to guitar giant John Scofield about his latest change of direction.
John Scofield has been around for the best part of two decades now, but it is in the past ﬁve years or so that he has emerged as the most respected jazz guitarist on the current scene, at a time when the instmment’s standing in the music has never been higher. A consistent poll winner and a much-in-demand embellishment to other people’s record sessions, Scoﬁeld now returns to Edinburgh with a new band.
His last two appearances in these parts have been at the head of his Loud Jazz group, a fusion-orientated, all electric outﬁt powered by ex-Parliament drummer Dennis Chambers, and featuring the keyboard textures of Rob Aries. Scoﬁeld had reached the point where ﬁnding fresh material for that combination was becoming ever more difﬁcult, and he decided instead to revert to an acoustic bass and jazz drums combination for while.
The trio he led last year with the splendid young bass player Anthony Cox and drummer John Riley whetted his appetite for playing in a more straight-ahead jazz style again, but also proved a little limited after a time. Rather than add a piano player, though, the guitarist decided to keep the role of chordal instrument for himself, and work with a horn player instead. There is no shortage of choice these days, but Scofield plumped for
of twenty years ago at Berklee College in Boston.
Lovano is probably best known for his work with the Paul Motian group and with Charlie Haden’s Liberation Orchestra, but has issued ﬁne albums under his own name, most recently the Village Rhythms set on Soul Note. The saxophonist also features on Scofield’s debut album for Blue Note, the excellent Time On My Hands, which should be available by the time of his Edinburgh visit. The album, which features Haden and Jack DeJohnette in the rhythm section, showcases Scoﬁeld’s newest songs, but writing is not something which comes easily to the
‘No, nothing comes easy! I would not consider myself to be a composer in the same sense as someone who writes long pieces. I write things for the band to play, and set-ups for us to work with, and some of them almost stand up as pieces, while others I wouldn’t quite regard as proper compositions. When I take things to the band, they often sound different, or I hear the way the musicians treat it and decide to change it around a
tenorman Joe Lovano, a player he first knew all
bit. A lot of stuff ends up never being used, or re-surfaces later in a different form. I guess I’ve probably gotten more proficient at it over the years, but it doesn’t get easier.’
Despite the change of direction, Scoﬁeld is adamant that the Loud Jazz band still has room for further development, and he will return to it in due course, while the acoustic format of the new band does not preclude the inclusion of music which draws directly on a rhythm and blues tradition as well as the jazz one, and even an element of free music, although he ‘doesn’t want to scare anyone off’ with it. In a sense, this is a return to roots for the guitarist, even if he did make his first major impact in Billy Cobham’s mid-19703 fusion band; jazz was his first love, and the great Sixties’ jazz horn players his major source of influence.
‘When I ﬁrst started to get into jazz around 1970, the music that was catching my car was coming from horn players like Miles and Coltrane, and the younger guys like Wayne Shorter, Dave Liebman, Steve Grossman and Mike Brecker, so I really listened to a lot of that, and second generation Miles’ guys like Lee Morgan and Woody Shaw. These hard bop players really had a big inﬂuence on me, because I couldn’t hear too many guitar players playing those kinds of lines at that time.
‘John McLaughlin was incredibly new and innovative, and that was one direction, but other than that, it was really still the greats like Wes Montgomery and Jim Hall who were laying down the music on guitar. There weren’t really any guitar players playing in that Coltrane/Miles bag, but that has all changed now, which suits me fine - I like to play in all kinds of different idioms, and I’m real lucky in being able to do that.’
John Scoﬁeld Group, Queen ’3 Hall, Edinburgh, 30 Mar, 8.30pm.
I THE STONES at ilampden on 16 July? Bollocks. says hail the hemisphere. Just like a hall-awake Listen! said. on a cold Aberdeen mom in 1982. and turned overto sleep oil the flimsy rumour that the wrinkly ones were playing the venerable - and minute, by Stoneslan standards- Capltol Theatre. Meanwhile, down the road, the Capitol box ollice was doing roaring business horn less cynical punters. The 1990 tour dates aren’t
oiiicially announced until two days alter we go to press, but we'll stick our necks out and predict that the Stones will play. Probably. Well, once bitten
I WHILE WE’RE Oil the subject oi our elders-and-betters, news reaches us oi gigs atthe Shelter in Glasgow on 25 and 26 April by a group composed oi venerable British blues-rockers ol the Sixties. Joining iorces are Zoot Money, Chris Farlowe,
Tony Ashton, Miller Anderson, Boz Burrell and Pete York. The name given to this assemblage? Why, Endangered Species, oi course. Altogether now, Aaaaaaawwwww.
I A MOMENT’S SILENCE. please, lor Danny Wilson, no longer to lick our eardrums with much-loved hits like ‘Mary's Prayer’ and
‘The Second Summer at Love'. The split, oicourse, is amicable (Aren’t they all? Well, I could think ola lew. . .), ‘and emerges simply with the realisation that, as the time approaches iora new album to be recorded, each member envisions a dillerent musical direction.’ Sources close to the band say that Bed is lully
night to call him on 031-229 4047. There will be
committed to being the next Stephen Sondheim, Kit is
too enamoured with workshops tor the Polynesian dance music to musicians beforehand. pay attention to anything I SO GRATEFUI. is Billy else, and Gary hasn't Mackenzie (we think) ior touched a conventional being chosen to be ourvery instrument since he taught own cover star last issue
a Finland 0X7 to bark at him that he is oliering signed
in Belgian. copies at his new album,
I BELTANE FIRE time is rolling around in Edinburgh again. Forthose who
‘Wild and Lonely', to live lucky readers. But they won't be adorned with lust
weren’t aware, that's the try old autographs that Old lire lestival held on Calton Bill dashed oil in a Hill on the last night at April lunchtime visit to his PR
oitice. Nosirree, they will be inscribed personallon live readers who can answer this simple question: with what breed oi dog is Billy Mackenzie “associated”? Now get your minds out oi the gutter and start scribbling to Listen! at the Edinburgh address.
to celebrate the coming oi Mayday, a rite suppressed by the Kirk last century but revived two years ago. Organiser Kevin Anderson would like drummers and pipers with some experience, plus anyone who’d just like to get involved and help out on the
The List 23 March - 5 April 1990 25