John Scofield & Joe Lovano Quartet | SPACE | Jazz | Chicago Reader
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John Scofield & Joe Lovano

John Scofield & Joe Lovano

Getty, Jimmy Katz

John Scofield & Joe Lovano Quartet 

When: Feb. 5-6, 7 & 9:30 p.m. 2016
Price: $28-$56
Ambivalent about the music guitarist John Scofield made after playing alongside Charles Mingus in the 70s, I became a fan once he paired up with saxophonist Joe Lovano in the early 90s. With drummer Bill Stewart and bassist Dennis Irwin (who died in 2008), they formed one of the era’s best mainstream groups, releasing four great Blue Note albums between 1990 and 1992. Eventually they went their separate ways, but I’ve maintained an enduring appreciation for the guitarist—though I’ve been less than enthusiastic about his immersion in jam-band projects. Last year the group reunited, Larry Grenadier replacing Irwin, and they picked right up where they left off with the terrific Past Present (Impulse). The two-decade-plus gap doesn’t matter, because the band have a classic postbop sound that doesn’t pay heed to shifting trends. Scofield and Lovano have always had an easy rapport too: the latter injects strains of funk and soul, while his partner adds stridency and exploratory grit. All of the tunes on the album were penned by the guitarist, and they cover plenty of ground. Highlights include “Chap Dance”—which weds an Ornette-like melody to a quasi-cowboy lope, a la Sonny Rollins’s “Way Out West”—the shimmering, 70s-bluesy “Get Proud,” and the jaunty, luminescent “Enjoy the Future!” on which Stewart’s thrust is particularly outstanding. Upon their return to the stage last year in New York they added a tune from the group’s first stint, along with some newer Lovano tunes, thus giving a sense of forward motion to the album’s paradoxical title. For live shows Ben Street has been playing bass. —Peter Margasak
— Peter Margasak

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