John Scofield Organic Trio – Ronnie Scott’s, London

By Mark Youll | 7th March, 2013 | gig reviews, reviews |

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With no recent record to plug, just a night devoted to playing standards and some hand-picked 'hits' from his vast past catalogue, guitar-star Scofield and his supersidemen - Larry Goldings on B3 Hammond and drummer Greg Hutchinson - threw their all into a show centrally tuned to the delivery of hard swing, lyrical balladry and unrivalled jazz-funk showmanship.

From the off, watching Sco and Co work up the sort of speedy momentum mandatory to take on Joe Henderson's "If" left this full house open-mouthed. Perchance of the risk that this typhoon of screeching blues guitar , swirling organ and loud , bomb-dropping drums may at any moment ram the club's doors and spill out onto Frith Street.

“"If" left this full house open-mouthed. Perchance of the risk that this typhoon of screeching blues guitar , swirling organ and loud , bomb-dropping drums may at any moment ram the club's doors and spill out onto Frith Street.”

Thankfully for the feint-hearted, this in-your-face pace was evenly cooled with ballads like “Flower Power” or an emotive reading of Ray Charles’ “Crying Time” that, evolving from a subtle organ drone and some fluttering brush work, offered-up a bittersweet solo from Scofield, chasing the pulse of a wavering guitar loop.

Whilst a break from such sentiment would hear a sprinting “Billie’s Bounce” win over tonight’s bop crowd, it was the nostalgic trip back to what Scofield comically described as “the fusion years…when everybody wore Yamaha-endorsed t-shirts and baseball caps..” and the soulful cry of his 1986 classic “Still Warm”, that rightfully raised Ronnie’s roof.

Maybe most impressive though was down to sheer creativity, and the space Scofield approved for his band to live out their wild inventions and build weighty statements, whether that be Goldings pulling something prog-like from the sleazy swing of “Out of the City”, or Hutchinson’s water-tight disco groove that brought the soca-styled “Iko Iko”, and indeed this power-packed performance to a frenzied finale.

Mark Youll

Originally published on the Jazzwise website, March 2013.