Ray Charles did it over half a century ago, guitarist Bill Frisell has been doing it for years, and now guitarist John Scofield has joined them: giving country music a jazz twist.
Sco’ (as he is known to his ardent followers) tackles songs old – Hank Williams’ I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry, the traditional Wayfaring Stranger, Dolly Parton’s Jolene – and more modern – Shania Twain and John Robert Lange’s You’re Still The One, James Taylor’s Bartender’s Blues – with great panache, bringing out a wide variety of moods.
His quartet has Larry Goldings on piano and organ, Steve Swallow on electric bass and Bill Stewart on guitar, and Goldings is an especial treat, his choice of keyboard greatly enriching the variety of mood in the pieces.
But of course Scofield is a towering figure on any session he plays. The rich range of sounds he draws from an electric guitar, from brightly polished to dirtily scuffed, together with those little tweaks of pure electronic noise thrown in like a bit of airwaves interference, have always made his albums for me like treasure chests of ever-delighting new discoveries. His solos are similarly smile-inducing.
His version of the Hank Williams tune brings out all the fast-living, dangerous side to the man, while Jolene starts with full of backwoods tragic drama, before easing in to a medium paced cruiser. Red River Valley heads out like a garage band rocker, while Jack Clement’s Just A Girl I Used To Know is a bluesily picked campfire song.
As witty as its title, this is a perfect album for these autumn days.
Categories: CD review