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John Scofield

Uncle John's Band

Release Date: October 9, 2023

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(interview) | ECM Records
'Inside Scofield' trailer An Interview with John Scofield
John Scofield Interview with Rick Beato
Elbphilharmonie Sessions
1 Mr. Tambourine Man  
2 How Deep  
3 TV Band  
4 Back In Time  
5 Budo  
6 Nothing Is Forever  
7 Old Man  
8 The Girlfriend Cord  
9 Stairway To The Stars  
10 Mo Green  
11 Mask  
12 Somewhere  
13 Ray's Idea  
14 Uncle John's Band  
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Named for the Grateful Dead song that concludes this double album, Uncle John’s Band features masterful guitarist John Scofield at his most freewheeling. Wide ranging repertoire finds his trio with Vicente Archer and Bill Stewart tackling material from Dylan’s “Mr Tambourine Man” to Neil Young’s “Old Man”, from Leonard Bernstein’s “Somewhere” to the Miles Davis Birth of the Cool classic “Budo”. And jazz standards including “Stairway to the Stars” and “Ray’s Idea” rub shoulders with seven far-reaching Scofield originals that are variously swing, funk and folk-inflected. The red thread through the programme is the trio’s improvisational verve. “I feel like we can go anywhere” says John Scofield of the group’s multi-directional versatility, and they do. The opening “Tambourine Man” for instance begins almost in the spirit of raga, before the theme emerges, lilting and country-flavoured, and the improvisation opens up a new space where “we don’t follow a form but play freely,” with Vicente Archer’s heartfelt solo an early highlight. From moment to moment the group embraces the structures of the pieces it plays, then stretches and liberates them. “All the compositions are vehicles for us to improvise on,” Scofield told rock magazine Relix recently. “All are equally important to me.”

If Scofield is first and foremost a great jazz guitarist – a status confirmed by a biography that has included celebrated work with masters including Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Gary Burton, Gerry Mulligan, Joe Henderson and more, as well as the many outstanding groups that he has led - he has always been an open-minded player. Rock and blues were his original starting points as a teenaged guitarist, and the quality of direct emotional expression associated with those idioms has remained an unmistakable part of his sound, however sophisticated the harmonic context. In parallel to his jazz activities, he has long been welcomed as a distinguished guest on the rock jam band scene and, as a contributor to Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh’s groups, has played “Uncle John’s Band” live on multiple occasion over the last 20 years.

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