LIVE: John Scofield’s Combo 66 @ The Egg, 12/7/18

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Combo 66

Review by Mark Alexander Hudson
Photographs by Rudy Lu

Legendary jazz fusion guitarist John Scofield featured his new band, Combo 66, at The Egg’s Swyer Theatre on a chilly Friday evening earlier this month. The name of the band does not signify the burgeoning age of Aquarius in the last century, rather it refers to Scofield’s current age. And the setlist leaned heavily on his latest album of the same name.

First off let me say that the standard of musicianship from all involved was exemplary. Pianist-organist Gerald Clayton provided sympathetic coloring throughout, and his solos were never less than limpid and graceful. Stand-up bassist Vicente Archer, previously seen serving with Robert Glasper, set up a sturdy walking bass that did not quit all night.

And, for me, the MVP of the show was drummer Bill Stewart, the very definition of power, precision and propulsion, driving the band effortlessly through some tricky material.

Ah, but the material. As mentioned, the bulk of the set came from the Combo 66 album, to me a fairly nondescript collection of mid-tempo workouts. In each piece we had the standard jazz trope of statement of theme, solos from each member, and then recapitulation. Unfortunately, two hours of this often seemed to verge on the soporific, not helped by Scofield’s strangely atonal, clipped and disconnected playing.

If jazz is, at it’s best, a conversation, this seemed more like a series of random tweets.

I must note that the majority of the near-capacity crowd at The Swyer did not seem to share my misgivings, intently grooving along and enthusiastically applauding each and every solo.

But for me, with the snow falling outside and ice underfoot, a guitarist noted for his warmth and fire mostly failed to ignite.

GO HERE to see more of Rudy Lu’s photographs of this concert…

John Scofield and Bill Stewart
Bill Stewart
Vincente Archer
Gerald Clayton

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