Sco’s new band is back, but in fact, they never really left.
Up All Night, which features almost the same lineup (Andy
Hess on bass) as last year’s Grammy-nominated Uberjam, comes
sandwiched between extensive touring by the band. Scofield is no
stranger to live performance, but his new live sound seems to have
rubbed off on his writing style. The entire album has a looser,
more organic feel than any of his other recent works.
This can be a blessing as well as a curse. While the disc
definitely grooves hard, some of the content is lost along the way.
Though there are certainly standout songs, others such as
“Philiopiety” and “Freakin’ Disco” just kinda’
happen. This is not to say that the latter two don’t sound nice —
they would sound just fine in a concert hall full of jazz-fusion
hippies — but their “jammy” nature lacks steam on a CD
through a set of headphones.
The standout tracks, however, ultimately make the album.
“Four On the Floor” is a perfect example: it has a start,
a finish, and ideas in between that make for interesting
instrumental music. Moreover, it’s funky as hell, and demonstrates
how well the band can jam, without sacrificing any substance.
What lies between the poles is a well-textured, well-arranged
collection of songs, spiced up by Sco’s familiar guitar work. A
horn section is used on over half of the tracks, though they never
take on a role other than adding some color. This is not a problem
but rather a refreshing enhancement to the mix, even if they
sometimes mask Avi Bortnick’s exceptional rhythm guitar. Bortnick
also works the samples and loops, which increase the flavor at
times but interrupt the band’s natural chemistry at others.
All in all, Up All Night doesn’t quite measure up to
Uberjam, but is still another solid effort by everyone’s
favorite jazz-rock guitarist. And even though the disc can run cold
at times, Sco-enthusiasts should find plenty here to warm up
Rating: 3.5 Stars