2 of 2 thought this review was well written
The smoothness of John Scofield�s guitar is amazing. I certainly don�t listen to his music for the vocals, which are hardly ever there, or for John himself. Keep in mind he�s not the prettiest of fellas. Nah it�s the smoothness, for a jazz guitar player being smooth is being cool, and John Scofield is one of the coolest guys ever. This fact alone should justify his place in the legendary Miles Davis� hard bop/jazz-fusion group. If that doesn�t work for you then might I suggest his technicality, every solo for Scofield is a journey, jumping from fret to fret and making it sound freaking amazing is just another talent of his. On this particular album, A Go Go, John finds himself working with Fusion/trip-hop trio Medeski, Martin and Wood. They, in essence, are just as smooth, rather just as cool as John himself, but in a different manner, mixing Avant-jazz piano/organ with tight worldly drums and upright hip-hop bass lines. Coincidentally these are the three instruments missing to turn Scofield�s one man guitar assault into a full-blown jazz-rock quartet.
Of course, when combining M,M&W�s brand of insane jazz with Scofield�s smooth more conventional post bop style the parties must encounter many musical compromises. Mostly the taming of Medeski, Martin and Wood, although Scofield�s music suffers a tad. Used to free open Jazz scapes, His guitar tone often sounds a little too crunchy and staccato when thrown into a mix of claustrophobic drums and frantic keyboards, like on �Chank�. The fusion is definitely a refreshing taste for fans of both artists, perhaps the best combination of the two dueling forces is the ultra chill �Jeep on 35�, featuring some red hot work from John as well as a cool bass line for Chris Wood and a short, but interesting organ solo for John Medeski. Whereas most of the organ solos on this album are uncomfortably jarring this one works just fine and creates a very creative atmosphere for John to lay down some crazy chords. Another perfect example of M,M&W�s take on John Scofield comes in between the funky fresh sounds of �Hottentot�, a jittery bass heavy funk tune featuring John�s mellow yet spicy riffs, alternating between heavily effected and dry for about 7 minutes of wholesome goodness.
John Scofield�s music is generally pretty happy and tends to hardly venture in to anything I would describe as dark or depressing, but MM&W sure bring him there on the short, but sweet ode to filmmaking genius, �Kubrick�. Though it consists of acoustic guitars, bass, sound effects and dark, effected drums this song oozes of jazz brilliance. On the other side of the spectrum, �Chicken Dog� is an extremely up-lifting song, featuring very little piano and extensive bass work by Wood. The drumming on the song is fairly intense, made up of mostly fills, but with a little 1982 cowbell thrown in. Haters may make the point that all jazz music sounds similar, but the point is it really doesn�t, except when it�s poorly written. Track #7, Green Tea, seems like a very cool and perfectly reasonable piece of jazz guitar, until you realize it is almost exactly the same as the album opener, title track A Go Go, just with a lot less creativity. For A Go Go it seems the highs are HIGH and the lows are LOW. The album ends with a song in the middle of the spectrum, Deadzy. The song features the album�s weirdest guitar work, along with a walking jazz bass line and mellow drumming. Deadzy continues the habit of having no organ to speak of, something MM&W are known for, but rather very un-orthodox string arrangements, a first for the album.
Overall the album is a refreshing departure from what I tend to listen too, but overall not too impressive within the genre. It�s smooth and features some of Scofield�s signature guitar work, but not his best. For Medeski, Martin and Wood they hardly fall out of Scofield�s shadow and as a result show off a more bland side. Though they commit fully with the grooves, compared to the solo stuff (read: without Scofield) it�s nothing to great. For this I give A Go Go a 3.5/5.