It was hard to deny a waft of nostalgia in the air on Friday night. Not only were most conversations centered upon which decade-old festival any of the crowd had last seen an Uberjam performance at‚ most of those in attendance had no idea that there had been a third Uber record released in 2013. But despite a collective lack of knowledge about current affairs‚ the electric wizard known as John Scofield made everybody feel right at home.
First off‚ I'm pretty sure Scofield stopped aging in the 21st century. Fortunately the Benjamin Buttoning of his twilight is not reverting his fingers back to some pre-pubescent state as well‚ and thus his chops are more honed than ever. Even in a crowd full of players‚ or more likely because of it‚ there were regular gasps of astonishment rising from the room. You know the sound -- hundreds of cats half in the bag‚ all instinctually letting out a massive pfffttttt when a lick rises fully out of the realm of theoretic comprehension. Each solo was more seamless the next‚ played with such ostensible ease that any critical analysis was thrown out the window. In short‚ Sco was on fire. Like usual. Like always. So let's talk about the band.
It's hard to walk into a gig like this with no preconceptions‚ and the biggest detriment to this lineup was simply the hype that they had to live up to. If I had never seen an Uberjam gig prior to this one‚ I would have nothing but praise for the band. And while some may argue that comparative nitpickery has no place in a professional performance review‚ I can't shake the lingering echoes. Avi Bortnick is the only remaining member of the original lineup‚ and with due reason; without the coupling of his rhythm attack and sampling majesty‚ this band couldn't exist. Andy Hess‚ despite having played with the 2nd incarnation of Uberjam‚ unfortunately bares the crown of being the most adequate bass player on the live music scene. The guy is incredibly talented on the bass‚ but it seems like he's always a band's second pick. I've seen him play with a number of bands over the years -- Gov't Mule‚ The Black Crowes‚ Steve Kimock -- and he's always the least noticeable person on stage. He's never one to make you say "wow the bass sounds amazing‚" or "wow the bass sounds like shit‚" he's always just painfully adequate. And with that being said‚ there were several moments the other night where I was missing the syncopated attack that Jesse Murphy used to bring to the band. However‚ the most noticeable factor of this incarnation of Uberjam was the absence of Adam Deitch on drums. Now this is nothing against Tony Mason -- obviously you're not going to be asked to play with Sco if you don't have chops -- but it's really hard to step to Deitch. I was trying to not weigh too heavy on his absence‚ but then they started up "Jungle Fiction‚" the go-to Deitch track. The tune was originally constructed around his gritty hummingbird fills‚ and while Mason was able to hold the groove‚ he wasn't able to inject that ballsy swagger that the song needs. It was the only low point of the night‚ although that low was floors above most bands' high points.