JOHN SCOFIELD, Combo 66 (Verve, 2018)
PERSONNEL: John Scofield (guitar), Gerald Clayton (piano and organ), Vincente Archer (bass), Bill Stewart (drums)
Sometimes, it’s best to let a master just do what he does. John Scofield plays jazz guitar. He does it as well or better than just about anyone. Sometimes he does it with loops or modern rhythms. But Combo 66 is Scofield in his wheelhouse: in a talented quartet, playing pure jazz (even if it is tinged with other elements).
Recorded over two days in studio this past April, Combo 66 (named that because of Scofield’s age at the time he was recording the project) has the feel of a band playing a 1 a.m. set at the Green Mill or some other cool jazz club where the audience sits quietly and sips drinks while bobbing its collective head rhythmically. Scofield plays tasteful single-note lines augmented with smooth chords and double-stops. One of the guitarist’s greatest gifts is his ability to not overplay, giving what does come out of his amplifier room to breathe. The rest of the band (particularly drummer Bill Stewart) keeps the back-beat tight, light and bouncy, even during the hardest bop excursions.
Combo 66 is the sound of a legendary musician doing what he does best with nothing to prove to anyone. Least of all, himself.