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With his rawboned sound, his seamless melding of various rock offshoots and jazz, and his spectacular gift for abstract yet chiseled improvisations, John Scofield has had more impact on the modern jazz guitar than perhaps anyone else but Pat Metheny. That’s why their joint album of earlier this year, I Can See Your House From Here, made such a splash: like the “Tenor Madness” meeting of John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins four decades ago, it matched the two prime architects of a single instrument’s future. Scofield’s follow-up disc, the recent Hand Jive (Blue Note), finds him in a no less telling collaboration–with the Chicago-shaped saxist Eddie Harris–but this time it illuminates not the guitar’s direction so much as Scofield’s own history. The success of their meeting comes from both men’s steel-trap control of the slipperiest funk: Harris invented his own, highly sophisticated brand of this aromatic commodity in the 60s, and Scofield’s music–in its earthy rhythms and moaning glissandi–has long revealed his appreciation for it. Scofield has spoken of his anticipation at playing with Harris in the latter’s backyard, so to speak; on the album, the saxist’s tartly funky countenance seems to extend even to tunes on which he does not play. All of which brings us around to next week’s engagement. Although it will not include Harris–who is tied up with a previous commitment–you can expect plenty of that Chicago-spawned shuffle beat nonetheless: it lives in these tunes. And the plush cushion of Hammond organ chords, supplied by the terrific young Larry Goldings, certainly doesn’t hurt. Tuesday through next Sunday, October 9, Joe Segal’s Jazz Showcase, Blackstone Hotel, 636 S. Michigan; 427-4846.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Patti Perret.