John Scofield & Vince Mendoza - 54 (4 stars)

John Scofield & Vince Mendoza - 54

(EmArcy Records)

American guitarist John Scofield was a recent guest of the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra in a scintillating programme of arrangements of music from both Miles Davis’ electric phase and Scofield’s own jazz-fusion tunes. This album sees him working with an even bigger band, the 54-strong Metropole Orkest from Holland, a combination of jazz big band with orchestral strings and winds. The project also reunites him with arranger and composer Vince Mendoza, the current artistic director of the Dutch orchestra.

Once again the music takes the form of arrangements of pieces originally written for small groups, seven of them by Scofield and the other two by Mendoza, who wrote most of the arrangements (Florian Ross and Jim McNeely also contributed one each). As in Scotland, Scofield is in electrifying form as the principal soloist, the Dutch soloists step up to the mark in style, and the music emerges in its new colours in very enjoyable fashion, with the orchestral textures never allowed to be too dominant.

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