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John Scofield - 10-15-2005 - Gatineau, QC

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John Scofield - 10/15/2005 - Theatre, Casino de Lac Leamy - Gatineau, QC

Show Review

By Sharon Williamson

John Scofield

Promoting his new album, “That’s What I Say – John Scofield Plays the Music of Ray Charles”, Scofield returned to Ottawa and played the lovely Casino de Lac Leamy Theatre; a great venue which rarely draws great talent. In fact one upcoming act at the Casino is Tommy Hunter, someone whom I thought has been dead for years. Watch out for that one.

It was a pleasure to hear that Scofield kept very much to his own style, though playing songs written by Ray Charles. Every song had a wonderful jazzy twist over familiar tunes and in true jazz and jamband style the band would venture into unknown territory, experimenting before returning to a recognizable part of the song.

“Hit the Road Jack” had a smooth swing that reminded me of the jazz that the Flintstones listened to in Bedrock. It was followed by “I Don’t Need No Doctor” which had a wonderful exchange between Scofield and keyboardist Gary Versace.

A highlight of the evening for me was “You Don’t Know Me”. This beautiful ballad had Meyer Statham on vocals and was executed in such a delicate way that you could hear the goose-bumps forming on people’s arms. I always commend musicians that can display emotion through such simplicity.

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“Just You Just Me” a song which Charles sang with Betty Carter (merci John ;), was left as an instrumental. Drummer, Steve Hass and bass guitarist John Benitez shared several minutes of this song playing together while Scofield watched silently. Their talents were impressive and as the duet came to an end Scofield looked out into the audience and mouthed “Oh man, WOW!” while shaking his head as if in disbelief.

Another treat for Scofield fans began with “I’ve Got a Woman”. After the first chorus, the band broke into Hottentot, a Scofield original from the A Go Go album. This was the one song of the night that really went for a walk as Scofield layered loops and bent notes with his wah pedal. The band was so incredible that it was hard to take my eyes off of them. I had to remind myself to watch Scofield.

The ebb and flow of a gospel organ opened “I Can’t Stop Loving You” which preceded the CD’s title track “That’s What I Say”. This song was great as Scofield took on the role of a Rayette, dancing and laughing while he sang backup.

As the band returned to the stage for the encore, Scofield spoke of the collaboration of many people on this new album and paid a special tribute to the talent of Warren Haynes. Scofield mentioned how he’s trying to play bottleneck like Warren and with that he pulled out a slide and broke into “The Nighttime is the Right Time”. The version would have made Cliff Huxtable and his family proud.

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