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The Gig: John Scofield and Joe Lovano

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Monday November 16, 2015

From JazzTimes

The Gig: John Scofield and Joe Lovano: An egoless plane
By: Nate Chinen

Every jazz fan has a personal catalog of Near-Miss bands—working units that you should have seen in action but, for one reason or another, you didn’t. I’m not talking about Duke Ellington’s Blanton-Webster band, or the Quintette du Hot Club de France; this isn’t a what-if with a time machine, though I can happily play that game all day. What I mean is the act of whiffing on a group that made its impact in your time, before fading into recent history. You had your chance, pal. You blew it.

Maybe I’m more susceptible to this feeling than most, due to my upbringing in Hawaii, well off the beaten path for even the most prominent touring acts. I was fortunate enough to catch a few, like the McCoy Tyner Trio, the Chick Corea Akoustic Band and the Branford Marsalis Quartet. But those were the exceptions, by far.

And to my great frustration, I never got to witness the John Scofield Quartet, which became a small obsession of mine at the time. That’s right, the band led in the early ’90s by the astute guitarist—with Joe Lovano on tenor saxophone, Bill Stewart on drums and either Dennis Irwin or Marc Johnson on bass—sits high on my Near-Miss list, owing to a combination of factors. Among them, surely, is the intensity of teenage enthusiasms: I still have my CD copy of the quartet’s first album, Meant to Be. Released on Blue Note in 1991, it established a pliable but unmistakable group sound, rooted as much in loping funk and rhythm-and-blues as it was in aerodynamic postbop. I practically wore that album out, and heartily embraced its follow-up, What We Do, in ’92. A couple of years later I lucked into a copy of The John Scofield Quartet Plays Live, a blistering 40-minute bootleg of the band in full cry. I had landed on the East Coast for college by then. Notwithstanding the odd nostalgic tour date, the quartet was done.

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