Stories » John Scofield & Steve Swallow is like one big guitar / CD HOTLIST

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John Scofield & Steve Swallow is like one big guitar / CD HOTLIST

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There are a few guitarists who are almost instantly recognizable by their tone: Richard Thompson, Bill Frisell, Pat Metheny - and John Scofield. It's not that his sound is idiosyncratic, it's just that it's personal. There's some chorus in there, and just a touch of distortion to rough up the very edges. But it's also the notes he plays, and the way that the blues are never far from him no matter how complex the chord changes get. On his latest solo album he's joined by drummer Bill Stewart and bassist Steve Swallow. As the title suggests, the album is actually a tribute to Swallow, and consists entirely of the bassist's compositions. Scofield has said that when the two of them play together "sometimes… it's like one big guitar," and you can definitely hear that; you can also hear why Scofield likes Swallow's tunes so much ("they're grounded in reality, with cadences that make sense"). As discursive as the trio sometimes gets - this is an ECM jazz recording, after all - they never lose the thread of brilliant continuity that binds these wonderful tunes together. For all jazz collections.