The tour supporting "That's What I Say: John Scofield Plays The Music of Ray Charles" is sort of a full circle journey for guitarist Scofield, as he's played the music since he was a child. And though Scofield has always been a soul/funk/blues aficionado, this is his first tribute effort of this kind and it is a classic. Some music is just universal and Charles left a long, deep legacy of groove, lyric and phrasing alike. None of this legacy or vibrancy is lost on this band. They channel the soul of Ray's music even while reverently and joyously adding their own stamp. Yeah, it is supposed to be that much fun.
Scofield's October 8th gig at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas was no exception. Scofield's communication/communion with the audience included everything from anecdotes from childhood (he related at age 11 thinking "Hit the Road Jack" was possibly a Republican message to JFK) to string scrapes/scratching emulation (likely remnants from the Uberjam band project), wild guitar effects, reverse delays, and his patented, funky broken chords and blistering blues-drenched guitar lines. From extended intros, outros and solos, feel and tempo changes, every song was stretched and polished until it took on a new life. Of the 8 tunes, Charles' hit, "I Got a Woman" received preference, as it bookended the 90-minute gig.
Boston-based vocalist, Meyer Stratham found himself in the challenging position of having to cover not only the iconic, definitive versions of Charles' music but also remakes of the likes of "I've Got a Woman" and "Georgia' recently redefined on Scofield's latest release by the likes of John Mayer, Mavis Staples, Aaron Neville and Dr. John. Among the standout moments were organ grinder, Gary Versace, who was the perfect foil for Scofield. His understated choices and ability to build and evolve over the course of the gig clearly made the music soar.
And though this wasn't a solo-fest, Scofield made his improvisational mark on the material, as well as the audience, which included 750 kids who were given free admission to help foster jazz appreciation as part of KRTU's Growing Jazz benefit Concert Series.
I Got a Woman
I Don't Need No Doctor (blues w great reharm)
Hit The Road Jack
What I Say
I Can't Stop Lovin You
I Got a Woman (encore)
Meyer Stratham - vox/bone
Gary Versace - B3/Wurlitzer/Rhodes
John Benetiz - bass/perc/vox
Steve Hass - drums