Nine tracks on Past Present CD make guitarist’s début under Impulse label‘s wing. Naturally it doesn’t really matter a lot for well celebrated musician like Scofield. What matters more is actually what he is paying tribute to on this recording. As this seems to have a double bottom.
First and most obvious is his come back to recordings he made for Blue Note in beginning of nineties as The John Scofield Quartet. Rhythm section was floating but Joe Lovano remained constant pillar of the group. Here musically somehow they are getting back to the same idiom, but reworking it as it goes according to latest feelings and changes life brought. Both good and bad. That also means revisiting of his roots, deeply seeded in blues. So it is still old good blues, as should be expected from Sco, but with some future facelift. Despite that blues is the Blues and it always comes to its own.
What is wonderful here is the connection between Lovano and Scofield, delivering unisono the melodic content. That’s priceless and it always will be. Bill Stewart survived in the same gentle drumming universe which he already established with the group on the previous recordings. Grenadier‘s bass lines are certainly different than Marc Johnson‘s , Charlie Haden‘s or Dennis Irwin ones and that shifts the way the quartet sounds now. His presence in the group is probably most meaning due to his history with Brad Meldhau Trio and of course Pat Matheny Quartet ,which was another most significant group of the same kind in those days.
His ability to immerse completely with the group seems to be shared with Scofield’s one. But historically he is a common denominator between past Matheny and Sko’s quartets.
Second layer is more spiritual as it is related to Scofield’s lost of his beloved son Evan. He was taken by cancer and left a breach in artist’s heart forever. It contains pieces which are written on John’s memories of his son or dedicated to him. This is very fragile tissue to discuss. I tend to believe that this reincarnation of the group despite of the organic enjoyment of playing music together has also some self therapeutic qualities. It makes a bent on the time curve and makes the Past and The Presence parallel. In sonic universe co- created with friends who were always and remain today witnesses of happiness as it is, being together means a lot.
As per blues, what can describe the sorrow of life better ? Nothing I think. Knowing that makes you listening to these tunes in slightly different way . Without this knowledge it would be still the great album which is joy to listen to.
And it is such a great to hear that the Past became the Present and the great John Scofield Quartet is back and around again.