John Scofield: guitar; Larry Goldings: piano, organ; Steve Swallow: bass; Bill Stewart: drums.
The music of John Scofield, a technically skilled and emotionally consistent guitarist, doesn’t confine itself to just one style.
His salutary versatility and originality have been noticeable throughout a successful career that spans more than 40 years, addressing styles such as jazz, funk, rock, M-base, post-bop, and fusion with the same unquestionable quality. After last year’s “Past Present”, a Grammy-winning masterpiece of original works, Scofield releases “Country for Old Men”, an album exclusively made of covers that pay homage to American country music.
The first great moment of the record happens forthwith with Hank Williams’ widely known hit “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”, which is fabricated with a modernistic post-boppish attitude. All the fluency and creativity of his language lies here, solidly backed by Steve Swallow’s famous swinging bass, Bill Stewart’s firm pulse, and Larry Golding’s oddly atmospheric organ comping.
James Taylor’s “Bartender’s Blues” comes wrapped in a velvety softness, a mood that is repeated in the folk song “Wayfaring Stranger”, a traditional piece that gains a bluesy feeling with Scofield’s guitar and soulful contortions during Golding’s piano improvisation.
“Wildwood Flower” is a groovy incursion into the Far West slightly deviated from its country roots during the improvisations, while the impeccably and swiftly executed “Mama Tried” by Merle Haggard, resorts to trading fours by the end, a process that we can hear again in “Red River Valley”, a rockabilly effort that also swings.
Dolly Parton’s influence during the 60’s and 70’s was acknowledged with the addition of her popular “Jolene” whose bluegrass foundation fades into a more airy atmosphere. The merry “Faded Love”, an original by Bob Willis, is geared up as a jazz standard impregnated with a pastiche of country and blues.
Keeping the integrity of his approach and amazing sound, Mr. Scofield and his associates sculpt these westerners with finely-calibrated jazz strokes and intense feeling. Even lacking the spectacularity of his original compositions, this new one is another worthy entry in Scofield’s vast and many-sided discography.
02 – I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry ► 05 – Wayfaring Stranger ► 08 – Faded Love