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Scofield's A Go-Go: One of the greatest genre benders in the history of music.


One of my new year's resolutions is to actually make good on my commitment to original content in this space, The Study Blog. In the hustle and flow of business activity and just trying to stay ahead of the jackals this blog endeavor has been sadly lacking in content. That shall change 2017. And I shall steer away from nagging complaints about the way other people do business, and focus on the beauty I see in the world and the things that inspire me and make the world a better place through art music literature and of course fishing.

Today, I needed a blast from the past. An uplifting, keep on keeping on, groove for focus and getting shit done. I needed an album who's passages and phrases I've memorized in air guitar / B3 organ riffs for the better part of two decades. In short I needed John Scofield's -  A Go Go.
When I first heard a track from this album on WCBE driving around at lunch from my day job in 1998 I thought the Meters had gotten back together with an even more melodic and syncopated guitarist. I waited with baited breath in my Honda Prelude in the parking lot of the Smith Brother's Hardware Building to hear what album it came from. Say what?
Much to my surprise I learned it was in fact a completely new line up of guys consisting of Madeski Martin and Wood and legendary jazz guitarist John Scofield. Now you have my attention! I ran to the record store after work and had them order it in. Yes special order, I had to wait, but it was worth it.
This album is, more than any other, as complex and yet still approachable bit of fusion jazz as you will find. I hate that word fusion, but there it is. Is it jazz? Is it rock-ish type stuff? Is it funk? Pure genius.

What it is to me is a collection of some of the most memorable, crooked, syncopated, spicy, delicious, off beat but in time, whacky, contorted, reserved, neck snapping, deep pocketed, Dr. Funkenstien ramblings that have ever been committed to acetate. It is in one listen, a pure distillation of all that the late 90s heady jam band scene should have been, but never really was, in reality. It's a perfect microcosm of what my circle of musical compatriots aspired too. Well rehearsed, but free. Liberated from charts but dialed into the changes.

It is stripped down and simple. Bizarre in it's guitar tones but also crystal clear and easy in other moments. It's melodies are totally memorable without being contrived and trite. It's a master of all things eloquent and discerning without being pretentious. It's deep and considerate, compassionate but hard hitting. Brash and talkative but has an ample amount of space around each part. It's a study in contrast but manages to hang together as one cohesive voice.

Madeski manages to coax out all of the subtle nuances from his B3 without wearing it out on you. Sco finds alien vibrations on the guitar with his whacked out chorus pedal, assuming from the Digitech Whammy pedal, without turning it into torture, which is easy to do with that kind of thing. Chris wood lays it down with effervescent subtly and Chris Martin finds a way to knock it home in the most laid back and off kilter ways so as to make even Charlie Watts turn his head and chuckle. The moments of pure jammy bliss, underscored by maddening spacey crescendoes only to be sewn back together with the thread of a solid head. Break neck allocation of skill and artistry One beast with four heads lurching and fighting with itself on the time signatures of life.

In short it's a masterpiece that should take it's place in your collection and regular rotation for all time, if it hasn't already. No collection is complete without it. May your day be equal part spacey jazz and funk inspired grooviness. Until next time. Cheers.

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