JJ 10/91: John Scofield – Meant To Be

Thirty years ago Mark Gilbert saw the great modernist stylist of the 1980s dipping back into the past for inspiration. First published in Jazz Journal October 1991


Although some have noticed a greater degree of formal restraint in Scofield’s latest music, Meant To Be is essentially a sequel to 1989’s Time On My Hands. Thus most of the upbeat pieces lay naive themes over crude harmo­nies and rhythms ranging from New Orleans march (Some Nerve) to calypso (Mr Coleman).

The solo sections are loosely ordered and the changes approached from the most abstruse of angles. Some atten­tion is thus required to discern the broad developments and cli­maxes of the solos, if such things exist.

By contrast, the several lovely, languid ballads reveal their riches immediately. Scofield draws from a wider harmonic palette in this context, and both content and delivery are profoundly emo­tional. Miles Davis is recalled in the delicately etched lines of Keep Me In Mind, and Meant To Be, with its light bossa nova brushwork, is a reminder of Jobim’s wistful studies in melancholia. These are the most rewarding moments in another set which finds the great guitarist unusually reliant on the music of the past.

Big Fan; Keep Me In Mind; Go Blow; Chariots; The Guinness Spot; Mr Coleman To You; Eisen­hower; Meant To Be; Some Nerve; Lost In Space; French Flics (68.36)
Scofield (elg); Joe Lovano (ts/acl); Marc John­son (b); Bill Stewart (d). NYC, December, 1990.
(Blue Note CDP 7 95479 2)