With his signature distortion-tinged guitar tone and a couple of hours worth of brilliant compositions, fusion-icon John Scofield will once again be taking the stage at Madison’s Barrymore Theatre this Thursday. Known by fans and peers alike simply as “Sco,” this jazz giant has been gracing stages for over 30 years, bringing his melodic improvisation to audiences all over the world.
He has been sought after by jazz legends, sharing the stage with the likes of Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Jim Hall and Pat Metheny. But perhaps most notably, Scofield has been a leader in the world of fusion jazz from its height in the 1980s to the present. Sco continues to chart new waters as he redefines our conceptions of not only jazz, but of music in general.
Although he is well versed in the art of straight-ahead jazz, Sco’s ability to burn through the changes of standards is exceeded only by his apparent thirst for experimentation. His latest creation, Uberjam, is no exception. Squeezing aspects of funk, hip hop, techno and electronic music together with the intricacies of his unique blend of jazz, Scofield creates a tasty fruit cocktail for the ears that has had jazzers and jam-band enthusiasts alike asking, “Who spiked the punch!?”
Uberjam will make up the bulk of Thursday’s show, and with its mix of melodic funk grooves and racing techno beats, it will be a challenge for even the squarest of squares to squelch their desire to move with the music.
Draped on top of the groove like a custom-fit suit, you will find the masterful lead work of Scofield. His soulful phrasing has always been focused more on substance than speed. Rather than spew forth a flurry of notes, Sco chooses his notes carefully, hitting you with only the right ones.
To assist with the arduous task of laying down the groove, John has enlisted the help of a talented cast of music makers, including Avi Bortnick on rhythm guitar, Andy Hess on bass and Adam Deitch on drums.
Bortnick has played with a variety of funk, African and Caribbean artists, including jazz vocalist Bobby McFerrin. This Israeli native also spent one year here at the University of Wisconsin studying under Richard Davis and playing in the Black Music Ensemble. His band-mates Hess and Deitch have had their share of success touring with top acts such as The Black Crowes and George Thorogood, respectively.
Also appearing Thursday will be the funk jam band Tiny Universe. Led by the highly animated Karl Denson, the band takes its jazzy roots to the dance floor as it provides steady funk for your moving pleasure.
“That’s the bottom line,” says Denson, “Get the crowd dancing.”
You can expect an exciting performance from this energetic frontman, whose emphasis on the groove is matched by his knack for showmanship.
John Scofield will perform at 7:30 p.m. at the Barrymore Theatre, located at 2090 Atwood Ave. Ticket prices are $20 in advance or $22 the day of the show.