John Scofield Band
Up All Night
First Appeared at The Music Box, July 2003, Volume 10, #7
Written by John Metzger
Thankfully, John Scofield’s foray into jam band territory was a brief one, limited largely to his 2002 release überjam. Nevertheless, that album wasn’t without its rewards, and at the very least, it planted the seeds that have sprung into full bloom on his latest outing Up All Night. Funk grooves still drive many of the tracks, but Scofield and his band now sound comfortable and relaxed in their new environment. As a result, the songs feel less-forced, and the ideas proffered by the group are far more complete.
For certain, Up All Night is a jazz-fusion record that is worthy of Scofield’s talents, though that doesn’t mean that he has left modern technology behind either. In fact, it’s quite the opposite: Beeps, blips, and other assorted, electronically-twisted noises drift through the music, and each — from the backwards guitar that spews over the bubbly rhythm of Philiopiety to the eerie frequencies that crawl through Creeper — is derived from samples that are performed live; called upon as needed to augment whatever ambient mood Scofield was trying to create. Where überjam occasionally sounded like a kid in a music store playing randomly with various pieces of equipment, Up All Night finds an artist knowing what to do with his new investments. Nearly every tune, from a reworking of The Dramatics’ soul hit Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get to the African groove of Thikhathali to the tender Like the Moon, is loose and organic — the way jazz should be. In other words, Scofield has managed to reinvent jazz-fusion by incorporating a modern sonic palette into a time-tested framework. It’s frequently fresh, exciting, and engaging, and that’s all that really matters. ½
Up All Night is available
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2003 The Music Box