JOHN SCOFIELD. Grace Under Pressure, Blue Note
Scofield may be the premier guitarist of our generation, an adventurous soloist who routinely taps popular music's richest traditions. His is a stylistic point of view borne from a mixed ancestry - strains of country, funk, rock, blues, and jazz (in its myriad variations), find their way into his play. Here, he expands his creative realm by inviting into the fold three of jazz's most personal players: bassist Charlie Haden, drummer Joey Baron, and fellow guitarist Bill Frisell. Frisell's presence may be the most provocative; his colorized washes of sound serve as scrims for Scofield's assertions.
The tracks themselves tell all: "You Bet" finds the musicians romping like kids at play; "Unique New York" is the leader's love letter to his adopted city; and "Twang," with its slo-mo intro of chicken-peck guitar, is nothing less than a drawling narrative tale. DR. MICHAEL WHITE. New Year's at the Village Vanguard, Antilles
White understands the origins and character of New Orleans jazz - uplifting polyphony, joyous and life-affirming - better than most, though he does tend to wax pedantic each time he presents himself and the music. One wishes that this celebration were less self-conscious and more raucous.
Still, the clarinet specialist has transported a taste of serious New Orleans fare to the world's most famous jazz basement - reason enough to soak up the good vibrations.
White is aided by talented trumpeter and Crescent City homeboy Wynton Marsalis, who guest performs on a few numbers. Not surprisingly, the album turns on those highlighted tracks: "By And By," a Protestant hymn ubiquitous at New Orleans street parades and funerals; and King Oliver's "Canal Street Blues," out of which the spirits fly, ushering in New Year's 1992.