Review: John Scofield "Uberjam Deux"

August 26, 2013
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Eleven years after his groundbreaking Überjam CD (with Jesse Murphy on bass), guitar force Scofield re-partners with most of the original band—rhythm guitar and sampling ace Avi Bortnick, drummer Adam Dietch, and keyboardist John Medeski—while introducing a new rhythm-section partner (Marcus Miller drummer Louis Cato) for Scofield vet and ex-Gov’t Mule bassist Andy Hess. Thanks to a focus on global dance grooves, this masterwork grooves even harder than its predecessor. The Afrobeat opener “Camelus” sets the table, with Hess departing his Fela/James Brown-like ostinato only for brief, tasteful variations. “Endless Summer” launches with a mechanized Top 40/club-worthy pulse only to lay a gorgeous jazz head and bridge over top. “Cracked Ice” is all Avi rhythm bluster, with Hess morphing his 16th-based part into an octaver-driven subterranean throwdown. “Al Green Song” and “Curtis New” draw brilliantly from “Love and Happiness” and “Move On Up,” respectively. “Snake Dance” is a slithering, Afrobeat highpoint, capped by Sco’s meter-changing bridge and Hess’s gradually developing, off-the-downbeat line. Groove playing as high art.

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