Tag Archives: john scofield

Heads Up: Detroit Jazz Festival 2013

The 34th annual Detroit Jazz Festival is this weekend in Motown. Detroit’s been picked on quite a bit these last few years, particularly in recent months, but the Motor City continues to thrive. One of the ways in which the city reigns is by continuing to host, and somehow continually improving, the world’s largest free jazz festival. And it’s not simply the fact that it’s both large and free that’s notable, but the fact that it features such a powerful lineup. (2013’s lineup is here.) I have neither the time nor space to go through all the artists individually, but suffice it to say that if you’re anywhere near Detroit this Friday-Monday you MUST head over and catch an act or three!

I’m especially excited this year – more so than any other time I’ve attended – as some of the headliners seem as though they’ve been curated to meet my tastes. Usually I’m seeing DMB at The Gorge over Labor Day Weekend, but not this year. I was originally deeply regretful about opting out of this year’s pilgrimage, but the DJF lineup made me quickly forget about it. Three of my favorite saxophonists will be performing, and regular readers of this blog should recognize at least a couple names.

DAVE LIEBMAN — The Master is performing three sets this weekend: one each with Saxophone Summit, Richie Beirach (duo performance), and Quest (!). If no one else I liked were performing, Lieb’s appearances alone would make this my most anticipated Jazz Fest. Wow. (A couple rare album reviews here and here, and MTH-V appearances here and here. And he is referenced in many other posts throughout this blog. And since Saxophone Summit also features Joe Lovano, here are a few great clips with him.)

CHARLES LLOYD — The saxophonist who always commands with subtle intensity. He’ll be performing a set featuring guitarist Bill Frisell immediately preceding Saxophone Summit Saturday night. (A Lloyd post is here.)

JAMES CARTER — Hometown hero and perhaps the greatest living technician of the instrument. (A couple Carter-centric posts are here and here.)

Those aside, I’m also quite looking forward to John Scofield’s Überjam Band and a host of others. You’d have to shell out a lot of bread to see just a couple of the acts that will be performing this weekend, but the fact that so many artists will be performing at a FREE festival is almost incomprehensible. As mentioned above, you must attend if at all possible…

MTH-V: Mike Stern & Bob Berg

Two weeks ago I posted a 1985 Miles Davis performance featuring Bob Berg and John Scofield. Piggybacking on that, this week I’d like to focus Bob Berg and another guitarist: Mike Stern (another Miles alumnus). This time they’re fronting their own band, having each moved on from being sidemen to the Prince of Darkness.

Berg’s “Friday Night at the Cadillac Club” is a fun and funky blues, especially with Stern. (I like bassist Lincoln Goines; Dennis Chambers‘s drumming is pretty static, but that somewhat comes with the funk-ish territory.) This particular tune sticks out in my mind after having seen Berg in what turned out to be his final year. (I saw him in February 2002, and he was killed in an car accident that December.) I whistled that melody to myself for weeks afterward.

Both of the videos are from 1990. The first is from Japan’s 1990 Newport Jazz Festival. (Enjoy the ubiquitous Budweiser ads throughout the festival grounds.) I prefer the solos in this first video, but the sound quality is better in the second (though the first is good enough). Beware the hideous cuts around the second chorus of each solo in the second video, however. (That’s why it’s not the main video in this post.) Music aside, someone should have suggested that Bob pack a second outfit for this tour. 🙂 But, at least his fashion sense drastically improved after 1985!


(Beware of skips!)

MTH-V: Miles Davis’s ‘One Phone Call’

Note: I’ve tried to make a habit thus far of largely avoiding material that’s also available for purchase on DVD. However, sometimes it’s unavoidable, and this time, because of cuts, it’s advantageous.

Miles is without peer, that’s a given. He’s one of my Top 5 (along with TOOL, Dave Matthews Band, John Coltrane, and Smashing Pumpkins), my own personal Hall of Legends that cannot be paralleled. I can assure y’all that this will be the first of likely many Miles entries in this series. Not only does my love of Miles’s music run deep, but it also runs wide. Yes, the early stuff with Bird is great, as is the Prestige era. And yes, I have almost his entire Columbia output. However, one period that often gets written off (and not without some justification) is his 1980-91 “comeback,” of which I’m a staunch defender. Sure, his playing wasn’t what it once was, and the music was different (but not worse or “less than”). However, Miles remained on top of his game in one department: bandleader.

Thought not as audience-friendly and/or extroverted as Duke, Miles knew how to assemble a band and get the best out of each musician. This is as apparent in 1985 as it was with the “First Quintet,” “Second Quintet,” and the various fusion bands of the 70s. Consider, for instance, his 1981 lineup of Bill Evans (sax), Mike Stern, Marcus Miller, Mino Cinelu, and Al Foster. With a powerhouse band like that, Miles is simply the Dude’s Rug.

This week’s video is an excerpt of one of Miles’s 1980s staple openers, “One Phone Call,” from 1985. (It went through many iterations before and after, but that was the name given for the studio release on 1985’s You’re Under Arrest.) It can be found on one of my favorite Miles DVDs, Miles Davis: Live In Montreal. While this particular YouTube video is missing the opening vamp, trumpet solo, and melody, it focuses on the real meat & potatoes: solos by the late Bob Berg and John Scofield. (Also, you don’t have to hear Vince Wilburn, Jr. – the band’s weak link & Miles’s nephew – drop the tempo, or see the rest of the band push him along.) I actually prefer the (accidental) slower tempo to earlier incarnations with Al Foster, but it would’ve been nice had Foster stuck around another year for this performance. Regardless, this clip is funky – it should get you out of your seat!

There’s not much more to say other than BOB BERG and JOHN SCOFIELD! They destroy, as only they can do. And Darryl Jones’s thumb is hard to ignore… (too bad he can’t do this kind of stuff at his current gig!)

Miles Davis – Trumpet
Bob Berg – Saxophone
Robert Irving III – Synthesizer
Darryl Jones – Bass
John Scofield – Guitar
Steve Thornton – Percussion (I love the way he creeps up behind Scofield during the guitar solo… :))
Vince Wilburn, Jr. – Drums

If you have the time, Part 1 is here.