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Eclectic Earwig Reviews

John Scofield, Bump
Verve Records 314 543 430-2, 2000

John Scofield continues to venture deeper into simple, stripped-down 
groove music - and farther away from jazz. Bump is practically 
a dance record. Mark De Bli Antoni's keyboard sampler even appears on 
several tracks; on "Drop and Roll" it's poorly integrated and sounds 
like filler. Don't get me wrong: Boundary-smashing experimentation is 
good for jazz, and good for music in general. Scofield's done some of 
his best work during his electric-fusion periods.
	But Bump just doesn't come close to his best work. 
Sure, drummers Kenny Wolleson and Eric Kalb cook up mean, steady 
grooves, but does the album really go anywhere? Most of the 
compositions are one-dimensional, although "Chichon" has nice moments 
and the "Kilgeffen"/"We Are Not Alone" sequence throws a few curves 
at the listener. The acoustic guitar overdubs on "Three Sisters," 
"Beep Beep," and "Fez" are also refreshing. But Scofield's noodly 
envelope filter and whammy effects grow repetitive quickly. He's at 
his best when he lets his distinctive single-note lines do the 
talking on tunes like "Groan Man" and "Swinganova."
	Scofield's association with Medeski, Martin and Wood has won 
him a whole new audience, one to which very few serious jazz artists 
have access. He recently played Irving Plaza, a mid-sized New York 
rock venue in which jazz acts seldom set foot. It's hard to fault 
Scofield for basking in this newfound commercial success, but let's 
hope it doesn't take him too far afield.
~David R. Adler

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