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John Scofield Trio: EnRoute

John Scofield Trio

It can’t be easy to hold onto a Verve contract in the midst of the company’s drastic downsizing. But to do what John Scofield has done here-revive a jazz trio he last documented in the early 1980s-signifies an even rarer kind of clout. Commercially, Scofield owes his powerhouse status in part to his jam-band crossover projects, beginning with 1997’s A Go Go, his sophomore Verve release in the company of Medeski, Martin & Wood. His two outings thus far with the John Scofield Band, Uberjam and Up All Night, have popularized him further without dumbing him down. The JSB albums are heavy on the funk, with sonic references to hip-hop and DJ culture. EnRoute, on the other hand, is a swingin’ affair, and perhaps a riskier business proposition. But when heavyweights like Scofield want to swing, companies like Verve listen.

EnRoute’s historical antecedents are Out Like a Light (1981) and Shinola (1982), both on Enja. An earlier trio album, Bar Talk, came out on Jive/Novus in 1980 and is quite hard to find. Scofield recorded these albums live in Europe with Steve Swallow on electric bass and Adam Nussbaum on drums. On EnRoute, Scofield and Swallow reunite, with Bill Stewart taking over for Nussbaum on drums. The setting, once again, is live: nine tracks in all, culled from a stint at the Blue Note in New York in December 2003.

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