John Scofield on the Old Town Square

Thanks to a festival Rudy Linka organized in the main squares of several Czech cities, both residents and tourists were given a chance to see John Scofield at a rare free gig. Scofield is one of the few names of modern jazz known to the wider public. Playig with bassist Matt Penman and Bill Stewart on the drums, he made a powerful appearance on the Old Town Square.

John Scofield Linka, a Czech- American jazz guitarist, is himself quite renowned, has released nearly a dozen CDs and won recognition of the foreign audience. He has staged the Bohemia JazzFest series of concerts for the third time. The last year is thought to have been a success, with well- known performers and an estimate of 40, 000 people attending the various events.

Around 8, 15 pm Linka welcomed the star with a glass prize, given at the festival for the first time, and the festival’s sponsor, Pilsner Urquell supplied 10 000 dollars for the trio. I believe it surely worked as a substitute for an audition. Pavel Bem was among those who presented the prize to the guitarist, although his appearance did not seem to enchant the public.

Scofield, a former co- player of the modern jazz superstar Miles Davis, is a key protagonist of the fusion subgenre. Such a sentence would arouse disagreement about many, since he isn’t bound by a single style, not even such a broadly defined one. He was always close to jazz funk, but that didn’t prevent him from releasing a dance- influenced album and some more traditional, calm works. A regular collaborator of other major jazzmen, Scofield seems comfortable with the open, ever- changing yet recognizable style he established for himself.

The show was both powerful and modest. Three people on the stage, enjoying themselves while playing some jazzed- up versions of classic rock songs, couple of standards and several pieces from Scofiled himself. The solos were intriguing, the players having a balanced share of time to present themselves. Scofiled was, of course, particularly interesting, using various effects, at times switching to odd and painful guitar sounds, constantly on the edge between established styles. And there were moments, when it seemed like two guitarists playing at once, as he played the high and low strings almost simultaneously, but developing a slightly different melody on each. He would need a third hand to make his play any richer. Shifting moods, the performance would easily slide from slow melancholy to relaxed mid- speed ride to a jazz- rock Satisfaction re- boot.

It wouldn’t be just to omit a mention of his co- players, who proved to be masterful craftsmen, smoothly handling both the support and the difficult improvised solos.

There were three preceding appearances that day which I do not mention only because I didn’t attend them, though I believe they were worthwhile. The festival went on for three more days, consisting of many appearances of bands from all over the world. It spent another night at the Old Town Square, then moved to Domazlice , Plzen (Pilsen), Prahcatice or Ceske Budejovice. Another big name, Victor Wooten, appears on the second Prague night.

1 Comments for John Scofield on the Old Town Square

  1. Prague said,

    Jul 25, 06:46 #

    It’s a pitty that I have missed to visit that free concert. Thanks for the report.

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