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Works for Me

4.4 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Audio CD, January 30, 2001
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

In his CD Works For Me, guitarist John Scofield returns to the jazz heartland, focusing on straight-ahead, four-to-the-bar swing in the company of Kenny Garrett, Brad Mehldau, Christian McBride and Billy Higgins--all masters of their respective trades. Scofield, one of the most distinctive and influential jazz guitarists since John McLaughlin, has always had a penchant for word-play titles (most of them in fact devised by his wife) and "Works For Me" is very probably a coded reference to the fact that in this album he favours the music closest to his heart. It's not all heads-down bebop though: there are chastened ballads and episodes of the funk vamping which has become Scofield's latterday signature; however, on this occasion even potentially banal riffing is spiced with harmonic surprise and enlivened by Sco's distinguished rhythm section. Scofield the instrumentalist also seems to enjoy a renascence, stepping up to creative levels he hasn't always reached in recent years. Such early triumphs as Rough House, Who's Who and Still Warm are run close, if not entirely recaptured. --Mark Gilbert

During his illustrious career, John Scofield has cleverly kept abreast of trends, lending his serpentine blues-'n'-jazz riffs to volcanic fusion blowouts, grits and gravy funk, even whisper-soft big-band projects. His chameleon approach has shone on such albums as Bump, his seminal fusion recordings Still Warm and Blue Matter, and his bop band workouts with Joe Lovano and Bill Stewart.

At his core, Sco is a jazz master, and we long to hear him interact with other giants of the genre. Works for Me answers this expectation generously. What's so compelling about hearing Sco with Billy Higgins, Kenny Garrett, Brad Mehldau, and Christian McBride is the accumulation of the fiery solos each man plays and the mood of each collective note. Higgins is the balloon the band rides here, and Mehldau has never sounded better. Garrett's dense logic is the perfect foil for Sco's charred leads; the intimately crafted songs find each man going deep with each improv. The band's overall crystalline perfection is so relaxing that it's almost mystical. And for all that, they trade fours and eights, a rarity in the pressured world of studio recording. This is an exceptional album that tells its tales with great depth, detail, color, humor, and passion. --Ken Micallef

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 30, 2001)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Polygram Records
  • ASIN: B000055Y57
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #248,156 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
I've got a lot to say about this album (I'm listening to it right now, and this is probably my tenth complete listen this week). "Works For Me" is certainly one of the best things Scofield has ever done. His writing and improvising are at least up to the standards of anything that he's done in his career, and the band here (Brad Mehldau, Kenny Garrett, Christian McBride, and Billy Higgins) can hardly be faulted on any count. Higgins and McBride make an absolutely ideal rhythm section.
One notable aspect of the album is the production, which comes off sounding a LOT like a cleaner (no tape hiss) version of a 60's Blue Note session. I've read that this album was recorded with no baffling of any kind, and that it was recorded direct to two track. As a result, there is a different sort of ambience to the recording; instruments are panned left and right, and there is some bleed over between the tracks. All in all, I find the sound of the record to be one of many of its very appealing qualities.
The musical highlights, to my mind, are "Not You Again," a new melody on the changes to "There Will Never Be Another You," especially for Brad Mehldau's constantly just-outside solo over the standard changes (it's incredible the way he walks the line between the changes and playing seemingly out thoughout the entire solo); "Love You Long Time," a gorgeous bossa; and, for Scofield especially, both "Do I Crazy?" and "Heel to Toe," which feature two of the finest examples of his playing on the record. Also, "Hive" starts off quite a lot like one of Ornette Coleman's late fifties tunes, before slipping into a straight swing feel for the improvs.
This is a great record.
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Format: Audio CD
One cannot accuse John Scofield of releasing CD's that all sound like each other. Scofield is one of the more adventurous jazz musicians on the scene today. On Hand Jive, he teamed with the late Eddie Harris for a very electric outing and on Bump he was into synth funk. On Works for Me, John releases his most straight ahead jazz CD. John's guitar is joined by Kenny Garrett - alto sax (not KennyG), Brad Meldau - piano, Christian McBride - bass, and Billy Higgins on drums. Scofield's guitar playing is very different from other releases, however it is perfect for the group. If you like jazz, you must have this CD. It is fabulous. These guys just meld into one. You will swear that this must be their third release. Although, I am sure Scofield will change style on his next, he could just stay with this group and I would not be disappointed. I would love to see these guys live. Every time, I listen to this CD, I am still amazed at how good it is. The title says it all - Works for Me!
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Format: Audio CD
I often feel as if John Scofield hasn't released a proper album since this one in 2000. I'm not suggesting he hasn't been very busy. There have been a couple of albums from The John Scofield Band (2002, 2003) and while these we both very good, they were also very experimental; I've got one by The John Scofield Trio (2003) but that was a live album, and the "Trio Beyond/Saudades" project (recorded in 2004, released in 2006) was again a live album and JS was headlining with Jack DeJohnette and Larry Goldings; there was the fantastic ScoLoHoFo project (2002) with Dave Holland, Joe Lovano and Al Foster and then the "Out Louder" album (2006) was with Medeski, Martin & Wood.

And there's more: There was the BeatleJazz project (2005); and the Ray Charles tribute album, "That's What I Say" (also 2005 and my least favourite of the bunch) and apparently, he's featured on many other artists' albums (like Roy Hanes' 2002 album "Love Letters" for instance, which I do have), some of which I haven't even come across yet.

So while JS has given us a good deal of good music in the last seven years, for me, essentially, this was the last proper John Scofield album. 'Proper' as in with him playing straight-ahead jazz.

And what an album it was too. It was via this album that I learned about Brad Mehldau and I swiftly went out and got every album of his I could find. He is joined on here by the wonderful Kenny Garrett on alto saxophone, the brilliant Christian McBride on bass and the very incredible Billy Higgins on drums. It's a joyride from beginning to end though once again - and I'm beginning to feel like I might possibly be a hopeless romantic trapped in a hardened cynic's body - it's the ballads I really love: "Big J" always makes me smile.
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Format: Audio CD
John Scofield is a jazz musician, and he's always played jazz. Fortunately for people who love the music, jazz can encompass a broad range of styles. So, Sco never crossed over to anywhere, and therefore has never had to come home. This is his record, his band, his playing, his music. He's never been anyone except himself.
Now, for those who prefer listening to ideology, here's the deal: This is good, solid straight ahead jazz. Not extraordinary or breathtaking, but a nice, tasty listen. Sco's effect-heavy sound does not sit as comfortably in this context as it does on records like "A Go-Go," and Brad Mehldau at times seems to be feeling his way around, and doesn't sound nearly as confident as one is used to, but Kenny Garrett really shines! Nice to hear this guy really playing and expressing himself rather than making his more recent elevator-jazz recordings. And the tunes are typically Sco, lyrical and punchy. For those who enjoy Scofield but don't dig jazz, you'd probably not like this record, but for those who enjoy Scofield *and* dig jazz, it's a nice one.
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