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Though he’s been recording albums under his own name since 1978 (and as a sideman since 1974), guitarist John Scofield, astonishingly, has never recorded an album of unaccompanied guitar. Though perhaps “unaccompanied” is not quite the correct word for his first self-titled LP – thanks to the use of a looper, Scofield accompanies himself on these thirteen tracks. Though jazz roots every growth from his musical tree, the axeman often explores different branches, from standards to country music to rock & roll. Thus Scofield roams the landscape via Buddy Holly (“Not Fade Away”), Hank Williams (“You Win Again”), folk traditionalism (“Junco Partner,” “Danny Boy”), the standard book (“There Will Never Be Another You,” “My Old Flame,” “It Could Happen to You”), his peers (Keith Jarrett’s “Coral”), and his own pen (“Honest I Do,” “Elder Dance,” “Since You Asked”). A player of remarkable sensitivity, Scofield always pays close attention to the melody so that even his improvisations still communicate the song’s original intentions. That’s arguably an easy balancing act for him to perform, as he clearly knows and loves each of these tunes like the scuffs on his guitar case, and the relaxed manner in which he plays them evokes a living room atmosphere that’s as comfortable and intimate as a hug from your favorite parent. An album of smartly chosen songs given lovely portrayals, John Scofield could soundtrack your next night in as easily as it could the rest of your life.
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