Sco Lo Ho Fo:
A Jazz Supergroup
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.
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.
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.
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."
to adjust his sax. Spit showers the floor.
"The key is having the right relationship together and doing something that