Country For Old Men
Impulse! 570 881-0 (2016)
John Scofield (g, ukulele) (track 2)
Larry Goldings (Hammond Org, p)
Steve Swallow (b)
Bill Stewart (d)
1. Mr.Fool (5:05)
2. I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry (7:02)
3. Bartender’s Blues (5:18)
4. Wildwood Flower (3:54)
5. Wayfaring Stranger (6:31)
6. Mama Tried(5:19)
7. Jolene (7:36)
8. Faded Love (6:33)
9. Just A Girl I Used To Know (4:10)
10. Red River Valley (6:17)
11. You’re Still The One (4:21)
12. I’m An Old Cowhand (0:31)
There were five nominees for the “Best Instrumental Jazz Album” category at the 59th Grammy Awards: Peter Erskine’s “Dr. Um”, Fred Hersh Trio’s “Sundau Night At The Vanguard”, Kenny Barron Trio’s “Book Of Intuition”, Brad Mehldau-Joshua Redman Duo’s “Nearness” and John Scofield’s “Country For Old Men”. Among these, Scofield won the award.
The 65 years-old interpreter from Ohio, Dayton, has a background that spans from hard-bop to fusion jazz. This album, which he named with inspiration from the 2007 Coen Brothers movie “No Country For Old Men”, is in Country and Western style. This is a project that is almost like a show of gratitude for his musical roots, just like his peer Bill Frisell has been doing for a long time for some reason. Luckily Frisell broke this cycle with his latest album. Scofield, on the other hand, handles traditional songs as well as compositions by Country and Western legends without cheapening them, within a jazz frame of mind. For example; the Hank Williams composition called “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” which one the Grammy award for the “Best Jazz Solo” category this year. This old and melancholic piece is played in an uptempo fashion. The metric swing of drummer Stewart and bassist Swallow supports Scofield’s and on the Hammond, Golding’s, improvizations. Ultimately this is the best interpretation in the album. Another interpretation that moved me is “Jolene” which is a Dolly Parton classic. It is transformed into a jazz waltz with its impressive melodic structure. We listen to Golding playing the piano in this piece. Another interpretation that is worth paying attention to in the album is Canadian singer Shania Twain’s “You’re Still The One”. Scofield uses the slide guitar technique in this piece.
Despite all the Country feel, James Taylor’s ”Bartender’s Blues”, Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried” and traditional ”Red River Valley” reach the jazz listener through the improvizations of Goldings, Swallow and especially Stewart. The rest of the pieces share the same outcome.
Scofield draws the “Country For Old Men” to an end by playing the Johnny Mercer composition from “Rhythm On The Range” musical movie, “I’m An Old Cowhand” on the ukulele.
Ultimately, my favorite from these five Grammy nominees was Fred Hersh Trio’s “Sunday Night At The Vanguard”.