John Scofield and Taj Mahal Celebrate Muddy Waters

Music, Folk, country and blues
John Scofield and Taj Mahal Celebrate Muddy Waters
Photograph: Nick Suttle John Scofield

Überjam Deux, the third album and first in ten years from jazz guitarist John Scofield’s funk-crazy, jam-scene-embraced Überjam Band, keeps things simple. “Curtis Knew” moves in and out of a warm but gritty groove that recalls Curtis Mayfield’s “Move On Up.” “Snake Dance” is Afrobeat to the bone, with sharp rhythm guitar chords and deep, stubby basslines. “Al Green Song” captures the desperate R&B fire of its inspiration with its shadowy organ work and bluesy thump of a beat. And the reggae tune “Dub Dub” skanks merrily below the leader’s stringy, soulful improvising. The band—Scofield; Avi Bortnick on rhythm guitar and samples; bassist Andy Hess; and either Adam Deitch or Louis Cato on drums—doesn’t overthink things. It just tries on a lot of hats and wears them all well.

When Überjam assembles this week for its first NYC gig in a decade, Tony Mason will be behind the kit. Though he doesn’t appear on Deux, Mason has worked with guitarists Charlie Hunter and Jim Campilongo, and should be a good fit for Scofield. Like his onetime employer Miles Davis, Sco is skilled at putting players together.—Brad Farberman


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