John Scofield @ Musical Instrument Museum

It's almost scary to think about the music that guitarist John Scofield would have created as a heavy metal artist or as someone who dabbled in psychedelic, prog, or surf rock. Instead, Scofield touches on all these areas together, with his mostly jazz-fusion-ish construct Überjam. Maybe deconstruct would be a more apt term. Scofield and his current band — guitarist Avi Bortnick, drummer Adam Dietch, and bassist Andy Hess — strip jazz to its most basic elements before building it back up into compelling, hard-hitting grooves that tackle the rudimentary rhythmic pulses and highlights of several continents. No single song is beholden to any one musical form: funk, soul, Afro-beat, reggae, house, and tropicalia all find a way into the jazzy mix. Überjam formed in 2002 from a prototypical jazz-heavyweight jam session. But after one self-titled, Grammy-nominated album, these jazz virtuosos simply moved onto other projects. Scofield, for example, did a stylistic 180 in releasing an album of gentle ballads, A Moment's Peace. Bortnick, however, never let go of the notion that Überjam would reform, keeping those beats and grooves in constant upheaval, as the just released Überjam Deux reveals. It's a fine album, but it's on stage where these musicians talents are truly appreciated — wherever the momentary musical direction.


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