Perhaps more than any other instrumentalists, guitarists have misguided notions about chops, as in you have to display everything at your disposal all the time; use ’em or lose ’em. As speed-king contemporaries became guitar heroes when the fusion era dawned, John Scofield developed a reputation for only being able to do the best with what he had. Not so. His new CD, This Meets That, is the latest proof that Scofield indeed has chops to rival the shredders. The ever-musical guitarist just has the taste to know when not to use them.
Scofield brings back the rhythm section from his standout 2004 live CD En Route: veteran bassist Steve Swallow and rising young drumming star Bill Stewart. He also adds a four-piece horn section throughout, and another of the guitar’s modern-day outside thinkers, Bill Frisell, on one track. Scofield’s jagged, alternately-tuned introductory notes on the funky opener, “The Low Road,” signal the listener to expect the unexpected. That’s reiterated by another abstract intro to the subsequent, de-tuned “Down D.”