New Releases : Scofield / Metheny Summit Demanding but Rewarding : *** : JOHN SCOFIELD & PAT METHENY; "I Can See Your House From Here" ( Blue Note )

Call this a summit meeting of two of the most important guitarists in contemporary jazz. Similar encounters have not always been known to produce impressive outcomes, but this one, for the most part, works just fine.

Scofield and Metheny are different enough in style to generate contrasting improvisations, yet similar enough in intensity and manner to create a coherent musical composite. The individual soloing--especially on tracks such as "Quiet Rising," the boppish "No Matter What" and the Rollins-esque title tune--is superb, juxtaposing Metheny's crisply articulated, elusive lines against Scofield's somewhat more hard-swinging melody-stretching. In the few instances in which interaction takes place--the thematic statement of "No Way Jose" and occasionally behind each other on the slower numbers--Scofield and Metheny blend with surprisingly symbiotic ease.

Despite its many good qualities, however, this can be very thorny music. Stark and largely empty of ornamentation, it is, like a Beethoven string quartet, complex creativity reduced to its essential minimum. The result can be a demanding experience for the listener, but one which is richly rewarding.

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good, recommended), four stars (excellent).

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