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John Scofield’s Combo 66 at Blue Note December 2, 2018

Posted by Mike C. in Jazz, Music, Personal, Photography, Politics, Travel, Weather.
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Two weeks after braving wintry conditions to see the Bob James Trio at Blue Note Jazz Club in Greenwich Village, I returned to the legendary venue to see guitarist John Scofield‘s Combo 66 quartet.

363 nights after seeing saxophonist Dave Koz for the first time, as his 20th Anniversary Christmas Tour stopped at the Tilles Center, it was time to see John Scofield for the first time.

Skies were partly cloudy with a stiff westerly breeze on Thursday afternoon as I walked from my house to the Wantagh LIRR station. I took an earlier train than the last time: 4:27 this time. Aboard the train, an M3 railcar, I sat in the head car and could see straight ahead, a perspective I seldom see.

Once at Penn Station, I boarded an E train for West 4th Street. I arrived outside Blue Note at exactly 5:45:

Within 20 minutes, I was inside. I thought about sitting by the stage again, but opted for a seat further back and elevated. Unfortunately, I didn’t make any new friends at the table this time. A father and son, and man in his 20s kept to themselves and I was too shy to start a conversation.

John Scofield’s Combo 66 began their set a few minutes after 8:00:

John led the quartet on electric guitar:

He was backed up by Gerald Clayton, on piano for five songs:

…and organ, which I had a better view of, for three songs:

Vicente Archer on acoustic bass:

…and Bill Stewart on drums:

Bill used brushes for “I’m Sleeping In”:

There were eight songs in the quartet’s set, with all but three of them from the Combo 66 album:
1. Can’t Dance*
Originally heard on: Combo 66 (2018)

2. Hand Jive
Originally heard on: Hand Jive (1994)

3. Green Tea*
Originally heard on: A Go Go (1998)

4. Dang Swing
Originally heard on: Combo 66 (2018)

5. I’m Sleeping In
Originally heard on: Combo 66 (2018)

6. Icons of the Fair
Originally heard on: Combo 66 (2018)

7. F U Donald (Bill Stewart composition)
Originally heard on: Band Menu (Bill Stewart) (2018)
I felt like an outcast as John announced the title, an obvious shot at President Donald Trump, which received a hearty applause. The son seated next to me cheered “my man!” at the title’s sentiment. I just sighed and shook my head. The song itself was great. I thought it was better with guitar than saxophone as there was on Bill’s Band Menu. Afterward, John emphatically repeated the title and softly quipped, “now, we’d like to play a beautiful ballad for [Vice President] Mike Pence.” Even I laughed. Then, the set concluded with…

8. New Waltzo*
Originally heard on: Combo 66 (2018)

*-Gerald Clayton played organ.

It was a superb set. Not even a politically-charged song title could dampen my enjoyment. Thank you to John, Gerald, Vicente, and Bill.

Returning to Penn Station on the E train and to Wantagh on a Babylon-bound LIRR train were both uneventful. My next trip to Manhattan is slated for January 10 when I’ll once again see pianist Lisa Hilton perform.

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