In 1981, guitarist John Scofield received a phone call at his hotel in the Netherlands while touring with his band. On the other line was a local TV-show producer. He needed a sub to play with valve trombonist Bob Brookmeyer that night on a show. John jumped at the chance.
The result of that appearance is below and features Bob and John performing Moonlight in Vermont as a duet. Listen to what Bob does with the melody and where he goes with the lines. Listen for the traps he creates while taking creative risks—and how he turns the tables on them to produce completely new melody lines. And dig John's tender fusion voicings that are both distinct and supportive...
Over the weekend, I spoke to John about this clip and Bob. Here's what he had to say...
"The show's producer needed me to sub for Jim Hall at the last minute. I don't recall why. The show was very pop—sort of like Lawrence Welk's show here. It was hosted by Pim Jacobs, a Dutch TV personality and pianist who liked to feature jazz. I was at the end of a European tour with my band.
"Music is so ephemeral, you play it, and it vanishes. But I remember that when I played with Bob, I knew that everything he played was right and that I simply had to follow along. When you have that kind of trust and respect for a player, it makes playing easier. The part of your brain that worries doesn't have to do that anymore and is freed-up to support the rest of the creative process.
"I also remember the support and generosity of spirit that Bob displayed. He may have been thinking at the time, 'Where's Jim? I'm stuck on TV with this kid?' But he made me feel like an equal, and that was quite a confidence-builder and lesson for me. After our appearance that night, Bob and I played a gig in Laren [the Netherlands] with a local big band.
"Back home in the States, I had an opportunity to play with Bob a few times. Bob had just relocated to New York from Los Angeles, and we played the first week he was back at the Blue Note, which had just opened. We were backed by drummer Mel Lewis, bassist George Mraz and pianist Jim McNeely.
"Bob was so great with younger players. Bob—and all the older cats I've worked with back then—recognized that the younger guys are playing the music and trying to learn. They saw themselves in our struggle and search, so they instantly identify and love us, for lack of a better word."