Sunday, November 15, 2015

Joe Lovano Reunites with John Scofeld for Past Present

Guitarist John Scofield's new album "Past Present" (Impulse), is a return to a musical partnership with Joe Lovano that he engaged in two decades ago. The group included drummer Bill Stewart and bassist Dennis Irwin. Irwin has passed and replaced by Larry Grenadier for the present recording in this same "electro-acoustic quartet" format to use annotator Josef Woodard's description. The album features nine Scofield originals, with several playing tribute to John's late son Evan who lost a battle with a swift and rare cancer. Scofield plays without pedals and FX on this recording.

There is a bluesy, groove-centered ambiance about the performances here starting with the opening "Slinky," with its appealing melodic base as Lovano's tenor wraps around the leader's prickly guitar whose marvelously constructed blues-infused solo is followed by Lovano's robust playing as Grenadier anchors things and Stewart adds rhythmic accents. Stewart's drums kicks off the playful "Chap Dance" which as Woodward astutely notes evokes both Ornette Coleman and Sonny Rollins or this lively and ebullient performance, and this is followed by the wistful "Hangover."

"Get Proud" hints at the classic Herbie Mann recording "Coming Back Home," as Lovano and Scofield imaginatively craft their solos here that are thoughtfully crafted, yet still full of energy and passion. "Past Present" is proof that jazz can be both playful, entertaining and yet musically challenging and one certainly hopes this quartet tours extensively.

I believe I received my review copy from a publicist. This review has appeared in the November-December Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 363). Here is Scofield and Lovano along with drummer Bill Stewart and bassist Ben Street at the 2015 Montreal International Jazz Festival.

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