By: Nathan Rodriguez
A discordant introduction melts into "The Low Road," one of the strongest tracks on This Meets That (Emarcy). The song utterly reeks of potential in the live setting, with the horn section of Rosenberg, Pugh, Feldman and Swana fading in and out, recalling snippets of fusion-era Miles. Scofield meanders throughout the track before leading the entire band into a prominent, memorable hook. The one constant factor in the tune is drummer Bill Stewart, who absolutely drives the song, toying with the beat and merging with bassist Steve Swallow to produce the thickest of grooves that would slide in perfectly alongside the work of Stanton Moore & Friends.
"Strangeness in the Night," an exercise in subtle celebration, is another early highlight. The introduction drips with swagger and adopts a rhythm that recalls the hesitant, slightly mischievous "Pink Panther Theme" before approaching a gliding swing with Stewart softly and swiftly utilizing his entire drum kit as Scofield travels up and down the musical scale. The song ends with a smooth transition back to the introductory theme, demanding immediate inclusion on the short list of "Best Composed" pieces of Scofield's creation.
"Heck of a Job" is a subtle jab at the Michael Brown/FEMA/Katrina fiasco, and beyond the Mardi Gras-inspired swing, Stewart has a chance to kick out a nasty drum solo midway. The band then slows things down a few notches with "Behind Closed Doors." If you're listening to it at home, dim the lights, raise an eyebrow in the direction of "that special someone" and just press play, baby (or go grab a drink if you hear it at a show). Here, Scofield meters out some of his most thoughtful, unhurried playing, nailing a few select notes and issuing enough space so they gracefully flutter to the floor before forging ahead.
Bill Frisell guest stars on the classic "House of the Rising Sun," providing a nice treat in the second half of the disc, and "Trio Blues" lightens the mood a bit with a downright chipper beat. The band closes with – and why not – "Satisfaction," a staple from the Stones songbook, and it seems to capture the intent, energy and essence of the album.
It seems that Scofield tried to create sonic soul food - a variety of musical flavors whose sum is greater than its parts. From fusion-era Miles to Mancini rhythms, from riffs recalling the Big Easy to the Rolling Stones, Scofield blends the best of the best. The resulting gem, This Meets That, stands as one of the better albums of 2007, and one of the better jazz albums of the last several years.
JamBase | Birdland
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