JJ 08/82: John Scofield – Shinola

Forty years ago, Barry McRae, wary of rock, didn’t recognise Shinola’s title track as a microcosm of Scofield’s stylistic innovation. First published in Jazz Journal August 1982

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There is no doubting that rock fusion has had a lasting effect on jazz, and most of the influence has been detrimental, at least in the rhythm department where it was supposed to do most good.

This record tells us of the better aspects of the interchange. Scofield may be a jazzman but his roots seem to be somewhere near to rock. The resulting phraseology is correspond­ingly cosmopolitan and this, allied to his flair for extempore statement, makes him a fine player.

Swallow perhaps underlines the rock association by his use of electric bass throughout. It is certainly not his best instrument, although the mobility he shows in his string duet with the leader on Bean does make a case for its use.

Apart from the dispensable title track, Nussbaum shows himself as a straightahead jazzer, and he keeps up the kind of edgy momentum that distinguishes the post-Jones tradition.

This is not a run of the mill trio and nor is this an ordinary record. If you are worried about the rock invasion, it is a record that shows how sparing use of the alien vernacular can be a positive asset.

Discography
Why D’You Do It; Yawn; Dr Jackie 20.15) – Jean The Bean; Rags To Riches; Shinola (15.30)
John Scofield (g); Steve Swallow (elb); Adam Nussbaum (d). Munich, 12 & 13 December 1981.
(Enja 4004)