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Groan Man

JOHN SCOFIELDBump (Verve)

John Scofield, who’s played with everyone from Miles and Mingus to Medeski Martin & Wood, has finally gone and done released a classic of 21st-century groove-jazz. Bump is not exactly the Hammond-style soul jazz of its predecessor, A Go Go; it‘s one of those rare cases where the sequel surpasses the original, attaining pure groove nirvana. Scofield takes his own highly personalized guitar and composition styles, and plucks chords and slices off stubborn single notes like sausage bites into unpredictable, snake-fingered twisting runs, all the while applying it to the groove. And for the first time he really experiments with sonic possibilities, tweaking timbres with sparingly sprinkled guitar FX and multiple overdubs and thankfully subtle keyboard soundscapes. (Think Grant Green covers Another Green World.) He says his primary directive was to achieve “even more of a funky feel than I got before.” Yep.

It’s straight down to bizniz with deja vu--spurring opener “Three Sisters,” and you think, “I know this song,” and although you don‘t, in another time and place -- say 1967 -- it could’ve been a funky radio hit. Other highlights include a swell Zappaesque squishy-wah-wah lead on “Beep Beep”; congas a-blazing bossa nouveau-lounge on “Swinganova,” perfect for a David Lynch remake of La Dolce Vita; “Groan Man,” which sports Classic Funk Sound No. 43, the old chunky, gurgly, bubbly Starsky-wakka-jawakka wah-wah guitar; and, finally, the space-age Booker T. sound of “Kelpers,” a great jumping groove with a catchy octave riff. (This song was named for funky “freeform” audience dancers, and this writer must admit to his own share of dorky gyrations at a recent Scofield show.)

No matter how far out of bounds from local Groovesville Scofield goes with harmonics or technique, on Bump he always returns to the chugging groove orbit, and it doesn‘t let up for close to one solid hour of prime, uncut funk. You kids can take your machines and go play in someone else’s back yard. This one‘s for the big boys.


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