The Austin Chronicle

Record Reviews

Reviewed by Harvey Pekar, January 19, 2001, Music

John Scofield

Works for Me (Verve)

Considering the participants on this date, alto saxman Kenny Garrett, pianist Brad Meldau, bassist Christian McBride, and drummer Billy Higgins -- all but Meldau considered hard-driving musicians -- this is a surprisingly laid-back and relaxed date. Leader John Scofield, among jazz's premier fusion guitarists, wrote all of the compositions, which are infectious. Especially attractive is the spare "Mrs. Scofield's Waltz," and "Not You Again" is based on the chord changes of "There Will Never Be Another You." Some brisk, but not breakneck, tempos complement Scofield's broad, penetrating tone, while his improvisation is melodic and coherently structured; he takes his time, pacing himself nicely. There are times when his loping swing makes him sound like a latter-day Charlie Christian. Similarly, Garrett plays in a relatively laid-back manner. He has a thin, slicing timbre, and articulates with admirable clarity. Meldau has a bushel basket of technique, but doesn't show it off here. Instead he plays economically and for the most part lyrically. There are spots when his subtle use of dissonance is notable. McBride continues to be a pretty traditional player, but his fine chops and big tone are heard to advantage, and Higgins is masterful, always doing what's appropriate. Like 1997's A Go Go with Medeski, Martin and Wood, and last year's Bump, Works for Me should work nicely for a wider audience.


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