Scott Fields Trio

It’s not easy staking a claim to originality playing jazz guitar. Oh sure, there’s a dynamic history–Eddie Lang, Charlie Christian, Django Reinhardt, Grant Green, Jim Hall, James “Blood” Ulmer, Sonny Sharrock, Bill Frisell–but when compared with horn innovators it doesn’t seem to rate. Saddled with an extreme reputation from the indulgent fusion days, the instrument doesn’t get much respect from jazz fans. Too bad, because there are plenty of interesting guitarists at work today. Madison’s Scott Fields is one of them. In the last few years this former Chicagoan has recorded a pair of fascinating albums. Most striking is last year’s Fugu (Geode), a sumptuous quintet work of meticulous but relaxed ensemble playing and vibrant counterpoint. Fields plays an acoustic guitar that fits gorgeously into the group’s unique chamberlike sound: the warm vibes of Robert Stright, the tensile bass of John Padden, the subtle percussion of Geoff Brady, and the brooding cello of Matt Turner. There’s a definite classical feel to his sound, but it’s tempered with a prickly improvisational edge. Fields is equally talented at composing, crafting long skeins of dense melodic interplay through which solo passages emanate with ease. For this rare Chicago performance, Fields will play electric guitar and promises a more raucous sound. He’ll be joined by Turner, a fine composer in his own right, and drummer Vincent Davis, who performs frequently with Roscoe Mitchell. Wednesday, 9 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 276-3600. PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.