NEW RELEASES : In Brief

*** 1/2, John Scofield, "Grace Under Pressure," Blue Note. Scofield contrasts his snap-and-crackle style with fellow guitarist Bill Frisell's impressionistic, fuzzy-bear tones. It's a surprisingly warm meeting. Frisell adds atmospheric effects, such as his brassy chording on "Honest I Do," or persistent chatter, as on "Pat Me." Meanwhile, Scofield's polished narrative style provides a down-home sophistication. The tunes (all written by Scofield) are more relaxed and considered than you might expect from this plugged-in duo. Firm, spacious support from drummer Joey Baron and bassist Charlie Haden gives the guitars plenty of room to maneuver.

New albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor) to four (excellent). A rating of five stars is reserved for classic reissues or retrospectives.

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