John Scofield - Moment's Peace
1. Simply Put
2. I Will
4. Throw It Away
5. I Want To Talk About You
6. Gee Baby Ain't I Good To You
8. Mood Returns
9. Already September
10. You Don't Know What Love Is
11. Plain Song
12. I Loves You Porgy
Guitarist John Scofield Embraces Ballads on A Moment’s Peace New Emarcy album features Larry Goldings, Scott Colley and Brian Blade
bona fide guitar hero and masterful improviser, John Scofield has
covered a wide spectrum of musical styles with rare authority over the
last four decades of his celebrated career. From funk and fusion to
swinging jazz standards, rock- fueled jams, lush orchestral
collaborations, earthy blues and old-time gospel music, Scofield has
imbued each style with his distinctive six-string voice, earning
accolades for his triumphs along the way.
On A Moment’s Peace, his followup to 2009’s gospel-drenched Piety Street,
Scofield and his all-star crew of pianist/organist Larry Goldings
(James Taylor, Norah Jones, Walter Becker), bassist Scott Colley (Jim
Hall, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny) and drummer Brian Blade (Wayne
Shorter, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan) luxuriate in ballads associated with
such legendary interpreters of song as Billie Holiday, Abbey Lincoln,
Nina Simone and John Coltrane.
Included in the collection, Scofield’s
third outing on EmArcy, are five new originals by the guitar great,
along with soulful interpretations of the lyrical Lennon-McCartney
number “I Will” and Carla Bley’s serene “Lawns.” “It’s
an album of slow, gentle music,” says the perennial poll-winning
guitarist. “But at the same time, we didn’t want it to be easy
listening. We tried to really play on all the tunes. For me, no matter
what kind of music, it’s really important that it be fresh and that
we’re really playing something. The creativity, when accompanying or
soloing, has to be there.”
sublime renderings of “I Want to Talk About You” and “You Don’t Know
What Love Is” to “Gee Baby Ain’t I Good to You” and “I Loves You Porgy,”
Scofield fills each of these timeless gems with an uncommonly
expressive approach to his instrument while stretching out in the
tradition of the great melodic improvisers.
And his highly interactive
rhythm section, marked by Colley’s formidable presence on bass,
Goldings’ thoughtful orchestrations on both piano and organ and Blade’s
sensitive, intuitive touch on the kit, helps make all of these tunes
come alive in the moment. Scofield has high praise for his valued
sidemen on A Moment’s Peace. “Some guys are interactive in kind
of a bulldozer way,” he says. “But Scott, Larry and Brian are all able
to be supportive of the music while making their personal contributions.
There’s a kind of a magic in that.”
this session marks the first time that Scofield and Blade have played
together on a recording, it’s a reunion of sorts for the other two band
members. Bassist Colley played in the guitarist’s touring group during
the early 1990s and keyboardist Goldings has had an ongoing musical
relationship with Scofield over the years, having appeared on three of
his previous recordings -- 1993’s Hand Jive , 1995’s Groove Elation and 2005’s That’s What I Say– and also being a key member of Trio Beyond, with drummer Jack DeJohnette (documented on 2006’s live Saudades).
Says Scofield, “I see Larry as one of the great orchestrators. That’s
what a keyboard player does when they play with a band. And
unfortunately, a lot of keyboard players take it in a direction I don’t
necessarily want to go. But I just always agree with Larry’s choices.
For me, he’s the perfect guy to play with because we cover a lot of the
same bases. He likes to play all the same kind of music I do. And
whatever project you have, if you bring him in the room he will add so
much to it. It’s the same with Brian. All the guys, in their own way,
really enhance the music by the choices they make. And as the leader,
you want to trust their instincts. I didn’t have to say one word to
anybody on any of this music. We just played the songs.”
Regarding the relaxed accord that his empathetic crew strikes on A Moment’s Peace,
Scofield says, “These guys can play beautifully and unhurried and
really capture the mood of a song. To be relaxed but have it be fresh
and energetic...that’s the trick. And I tried to keep the music somewhat
simple so everybody could just play. When you have personalities like
this, you just let them play and the music comes together in its own
He adds, “It’s the first time I’ve tried to do anything like this since Quiet,”
referring to his 1996 Verve album, which focused on soothing melodies
played exclusively acoustic guitar. “And I kept the songs short because I
wanted the songs to be the thing. We do solo but the interpretation of
the songs is our primary goal.”
Scofield had these comments on the individual tracks from A Moment’s Peace: “Simply Put” – I wrote this song a few years back. The title says it all....just a
simple song, and we got a vibe on it for lack of a better word. It’s a bossa nova.
Will” -- I was looking for something contemporary...not an old jazz
tune or an original by me, but something newer. I was really searching
but couldn’t find one. There was a tune by the group Fountains of Wayne
that I really liked and another by Elliott Smith, but they didn’t really
work as jazz. So finally when I was packing up to go to the session for
this album, a chart I had written out ten years ago for the Beatles’ “I
Will” fell on the floor in front of me. This was really spooky. I had
completely forgotten that I had this and then, in my studio at home
where I have piles of music all over the place, it just fell on the
floor in front of me. So I just picked it up and brought it along. We
swung it a little and it came alive in the studio. I know this song
because I got the Beatles White Album for Christmas when I was a
kid and played it to death. I listened to the songs so much that I
absorbed them. It’s different to play on a song that’s absolutely inside
you and you know the words by heart.
“Lawns” – Carla Bley is one of the great composers of our time, without a doubt. This tune is from her Sextet album
from the mid ‘80s and featured Hiram Bullock on guitar. We played it
like a jazz tune even though I think originally she did it more like a
straight eighth feel. It’s one of those melodies and chord changes where
you can’t stop playing on it. And it has an energy of it’s own.
It Away” – I love Abbey Lincoln’s music. This is such a great tune and
the lyrics just kill me...the message of “don’t hold onto stuff, let it
go.” And what a singer! I just relate so much to her phrasing and style.
I would like to play guitar the way she sings. In fact on the whole
record, and especially on this tune, I tried to be the singer. I wish I
could really sing, but trust me, you don’t want to hear me. So instead, I
sing these melodies on guitar. Scott Colley’s solo on this tune is a
high point on the record for me.
Want to Talk about You” – That’s probably the most jazzy song on the
date and we really stretch on it. John Coltrane’s music has been a big
part of my life since my youth. I heard this song when I was probably
16. I think the tenor saxophone and the guitar are so similar in a way.
They have the same register, and both instruments can play vocal-like
phrases. Coltrane has such a cry...and the guitar has a different kind
of cry, I guess.
Baby Ain’t I Good To You” – Larry Goldings is amazing. That’s one of
the greatest solos that he plays on that. Plus, he has a sound on the
organ which is like Ray Charles’ on “One Mint Julep” from Genius + Soul = Jazz,
where you turn the Leslie off completely and it’s a really flat funky
sound. And Larry just kills his solo here. As for myself, I’m just
trying to play the blues in the tradition of all the blues guitar
giants, from the three Kings (B.B., Albert, Freddie), Johnny Guitar
Watson and all the rest. I think one of the greatest inventions of the
20th century was blues played
by B.B. King and his disciples. That style of blues guitar playing,
it’s almost what the guitar is all about.
– That’s my tune. It’s “Johan,” as in Johan Sebastian Bach, because the
first couple of guitar chords on this melody really remind me of a
famous Bach piece. They’re kind of lifted from Bach’s “Gavotte,” which
is one of his violin Partitas. I learned it on the guitar in my student
days. I wrote this song and then realize that it has similarities. I
think I’m cool copyright-wise, but I decided to dedicate it to Johan.
Returns” – The title came from the fact that I was trying to write some
songs and nothing was happening, I couldn’t get any mood. And then I
wrote this song and it seemed to be happening, so I called it “Mood
Returns.” It also reminded me of some pieces I had written 15 years
ago...so it’s a return of sorts. Larry and I have such close interplay
on this song. We’ve played together so much that any kind of
call-and-response is intuitive at this point. Also, I could hear in
Brian’s playing a New Orleans groove, a touch of Johnny Vidacovich, who
was his mentor in New Orleans.
September” – That’s another original. And I wrote it last September.
It’s a jazz tune with challenging chord changes to play on. I really had
to practice those for a while. It’s not like “Giant Steps,” but you
definitely have to check ‘em out before you do it. Brian’s playing here
is really intuitive and Scott’s accompaniment is perfect. These slower
pieces leave a little bit more space and so you need to have
interaction. When you’re not playing a million notes, everything counts a
little more. So there’s room for everybody to color the music.
Don’t Know What Love Is” – This is one of the most lovely ballads,
especially the way Billie Holiday sings it. This is actually the one
tune where I dictated an arrangement. On this one, I suggested doing it
in a reggae groove. It’s got a dub bass line with a slow Elvin Jones
kind of drum part. And Larry plays more or less the chank, the guitar
part, on the organ. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard anyone do that
before, and it worked.
Song” – It’s another simple song of mine. It starts out country with a
little Woody Guthrie element in there. And then we blow on it and it
goes somewhere else. It’s definitely folkloric.
Loves You Porgy” – That’s a really super-loose, abstract version of the
famous Gershwin song. It’s rubato but it’s got its own inner rhythm.
Don’t bother trying to count it, though. All I did was play the melody
and what Larry plays is just coloring around me. And I have a tremelo
pedal on for a little different sound on there. And again, the words
tune to this just kill me. I hear them when I play it. I love Nina
Simone’s version - what a piece of music. It’s just so heart-wrenching
when she loves him and says, “Please don’t let them take me away from
you.” It’s a tear-jerker, as they say.