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Hollowbody Band solidly behind keeping jazz 'honest'

| Wednesday, April 3, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Nick Suttle
Jazz guitarist John Scofield

John Scofield is willing to admit he and Mike Stern are fibbing a bit about their Hollowbody Band.

“The hollowbody is the jazz guitar, you know, but Mike wanted to play a solidbody and I just got a new one, too, so that's what we're doing,” he says. “I might have to make a little disclaimer.”

He pauses and adds: “I can tell them it really refers to Mike and me. Inside of us, there is just nothing left.”

The two guitarists will bring the band to the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild April 6 in a display of one of the many variations of Scofield's work.

He recently returned from a month in Europe with what he calls the John Scofield Organic Trio, featuring him, Larry Goldings on Hammond B-3 organ and Greg Hutchinson on drums. Now, he is touring with the Hollowbody Band and is planning summer work with his electro-funky Überjam band.

The Hollowbody Band did play to its name in its first days, he says.

“I had written some truly jazz songs and put together a band with Kurt Rosenwinkel and, yes, we both had hollowbodies then,” he says.

But this band more or less came about as a vehicle for a tour by Scofield and Stern, who both grew into their jazz careers in the late 1970s in New York City. They knew each other well then and shared the stage together with Miles Davis at one stretch. They each played individually with Davis for a time, too, before moving ahead on their own careers.

“I think I was coming from the electronic sound of Miles back then,” Scofield says about the beginning of his solo career back in the ‘80s.

Since then he has worked in many settings and created albums that almost-always sound quite different from their predecessors. He has albums that go from “Quiet” with its soft-speaking horn section to “Loud Jazz,” which is what it says.

Besides the trio with Goldings and Hutchinson, Scofield frequently works in another threesome with drummer Bill Stewart and bassist Steve Swallow.

The Hollowbody Band also will feature Stewart and bassist Ben Street.

“The world likes things that are new,” Scofield says about his changing sounds and changing groups. “Clubs and concert-planners like new things, too.”

He says the Hollowbody Band gives him the change of creating “honest jazz” that is far removed from an electric sound. He says the group will be playing some of his versions of standards, as well as original material.

Scofield does know there is one hitch to the evening: rock guitar giant Eric Clapton also is playing that evening at the Consol Energy Center, Uptown.

“Man,” he says with a sigh. “I'd like to see Clapton myself.”

Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at bkarlovits@tribweb.com or 412-320-7852.

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