John Scofield: I'll Take Les


I'll Take Les


John Scofield (guitar)


Hand Jive (Blue Note 527327)

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John Scofield (guitar), Eddie Harris (tenor sax),

Larry Goldings (piano), Dennis Irwin (bass), Bill Stewart (drums)


Composed by John Scofield


Recorded: New York, October 1993


Rating: 95/100 (learn more)

The "Les" in the title is Les McCann, and this clever reworking of McCann's hit "Compared to What," sans vocal but including Eddie Harris, who played on the original version, is a treat. Irwin's bass ostinato and Stewart's metronomic rhythm off the rim of his snare, soon followed by Goldings's piano riff and turnarounds, which all introduce "I'll Take Les," are direct acknowledgments of McCann's arrangement. However, Scofield's catchy melody is definitely taken from the guitarist's personal bag of funk. Scofield's strong solo is launched with twangy blues lines before he adds some pleasing distortion effects and wah-wah voicings. A return of the theme sets the stage for Harris, who, with his unique vocalized sound, employs some trademark repeated patterns as a foundation for his soulful phrasing on top a typical call and response as Harris converses engagingly with himself. The captivating fadeout ending consists of a five-note vamp by Harris, backed by Irwin's seductive bassline and Stewart's understated drum accents. This one-off Scofield/Harris match-up was a natural fit; too bad it didn't develop into a regular working relationship. Scofield/Lovano was coming to an end around that time, and Scofield/Harris would have been a worthy successor.

Reviewer: Scott Albin

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