I make a point of listening to every album John Scofield releases and his most recent offering is no exception. If you are familiar with 2002's Uberjam, you might expect the second installment , Uberjam Deux, to be another funk manifesto with samples and programming to the fore. While that is true to an extent, for those seeking the Scofield release closest in spirit and sound to Uberjam, you would be best served by picking up 2003's Up All Night. "U2", on the other hand. is altogether less cybernetic sounding than its namesake and correspondingly more soulful. The grooves are still the thing, but they tend to be slinkier and more relaxed, particularly on cuts like "Al Green Song" (natch), "Dub Dub" (ditto) "Boogie Stupid", "Scotown" and "Just Don't Want to be Lonely".
The personnel on this album comprises John Scofield, guitar; Avi Bortnick, guitar and samples ; Andy Hess, bass ; Adam Deitch, Louis Cato, drums and "special guest" John Medeski on organ, Wurlitzer & Mellotron. Bortnick, Deitch and Medeski are alumnae of the first Uberjam disc. A constant throughout both releases is Scofield's pungent, frequently surprising guitar playing, with trademark wide intervallic leaps, bends, dissonances and apposite noises, for lack of a better term. Both "Cracked Ice" and "Snake Dance" feature his impressive up tempo blowing. Avi Bortnick complements the leader beautifully with unerringly tasteful rhythm guitar parts. The opening cut, "Camelus" is a prime example of their chemistry. I first encountered Adam Deitch on the earlier Uberjam and was bowled over by the funkiness and precision of his drumming. Given that both parents played drums professionally, he seems to have been predestined for eminence in (one of) his chosen field(s)*. The other holdover from Uberjam sessions of a 2002, John Medeski , of Medeski, Martin & Woods, contributes spare but potent keyboards to many of the tracks but only takes one brief, albeit appealingly menacing, solo on "Dub Dub".
Over the years, John Scofield has given pretty free rein to his exploratory impulses and consequently touch on a wide variety of styles; from fusion, to more mainstream jazz, from N'Awlins second line funk to techno funk, as well as gospel, old school R&B and quiet orchestral settings for his more pensive guitar musings. Then there is his work with Miles Davis, which resists easy categorization. In this context, Uberjam Deux, while not his most innovative record, is a whole lot of fun. Some folks might even find it to be suitable as a party disc. It's sure to set toes a-tappin'.
Now, can someone tell me what relation the album's cover art bears to its contents?
* Adam Deitch is also a noted record producer.