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Cirque Du Soleil
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Amos Lee
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Julius Curcio
"American Pie"
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Spotlights [Issue # 2 ]
Sco Lo Ho Fo: A Jazz Supergroup

By Ken Micallef


Ask your local jazz merchant; they'll tell you that today's jazz can be a hard sell. Kids want hip-hop, old folks want peace, 20-somethings want The Strokes. But the celebration of swing, sophistication, melody and harmony is not dead. It's only gone underground. And the underground is always nurturing, always sparking, always revealing fresh sounds. Jazz super group ScoLoHoFo might seem unlikely candidates for an underground movement, but with jazz sales in the trenches, these weathered masters are pushing hard on the edge of the improvisational art. "We let the music dictate and be our guide in how we shape each arrangement as we go along," says saxophonist Joe Lovano before a gig at New York's Iridium. "It is not talked about, it is real organic. It depends on how we are playing and what we are playing. Even when recording, especially with this band, the way we record after doing a tour, we recorded the songs in the order that felt like a performance. It's a collection that took shape from playing together."

With John Scofield, guitar; Dave Holland, bass; and Al Foster, drums; ScoLoHoFo's Oh! (Blue Note) draws upon each player for instrumental and compositional contributions. Oh! has the soft-knuckled bop approach of Sco's 90s albums (which included Lovano) and also the rich palette of sounds familiar to Holland's ever evolving output. The album is relaxed sounding, with a feeling like old friends sipping port and puffing on big Cubans in front of a roaring fire. It just feels good.

"Each tune captures a different kind of mood," says Lovano. "New Amsterdam" had a lot of magic in it, an open groove with some harmonies. And Dave's tune 'The Winding Way' also, both of those tunes are open and free flowing. Those tunes are always a real journey. And Al's bossa, 'Bittersweet,' is a nice moment."

ScoLoHoFo formed in '99, and has been touring off and on, mostly in Europe, ever since. While young lions might compare notes on speed, sports and rhythmic velocity, these titans still discuss the heart of the music.


"All our conversations are about the music, about jazz, about players, about Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, about Dizzy, Monk. A lot of Sonny Rollins. Al grew up in New York hearing Miles and Trane, he has so much passion about what he has seen and heard. We all have that. Everyday was about the music and how these musicians have impacted who we are and why we are doing this. You have to have a deep passion out here. You might not ever even be heard by anybody, but you have to be very involved in this music. That was every day, talking about people."

But even with the camaraderie of the road, one wonders if a super group has its own built-in constrictions. "When you can play in a creative way and you have many themes to draw from, different people play in different sections. It could be constricting if you are upset cause you are not playing on every tune, but if you play with a bigger picture in mind it is a flowing thing.

"We came together in '99 cause we wanted to. It wasn't an idea to make a record; we had an opportunity to form a quartet. These tunes were written for this situation. We didn't do it to be successful; we have always played together."

Lovano pauses to adjust his sax. Spit showers the floor.

"The key is having the right relationship together and doing something that is fresh."

Oh!
Bluenote

A Jazz Supergroup Sco Lo Ho Fo Oh!


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