Review: Matt Scofield – Live From The Archive

Posted on: Saturday, Aug 14, 2010

“Live From The Archive”
(Nugene Records – NUG1002)

Without doubt one of the classiest European guitar players around, our own Matt Schofield has come a long way in the six years since his debut cd – also a live offering – and here, after three acclaimed studio albums he has dipped back into a live-to-air recording with “Live From The Archive” – first broadcast live on NPS in Holland in January 2007, at De Bosuil, Weert. The recording is just as the show was broadcast, with no retakes or production fixes.

Here he is in the company of his original trio, also featuring the groove-laden Hammond B3 of the great Jonny Henderson, who also handles bass duties with his left hand, and drummer Evan Jenkins. Together they stretch out on eight numbers, plus one spoken band intro – indeed, this is the whole set, bar one tune lost to a technical glitch – four original songs from the studio albums and four covers.

The sprightly opener, co-written with Sam Hare, is the jazzy shuffle of “All You Need”, with plenty of opportunity for the tasteful playing of Jonny Henderson; followed by the funk-flavoured title cut of his first studio album, “Siftin’ Thru Ashes”, complete with gritty vocal and a couple of incendiary solos from Schofield. After a short band intro the trio stretch out on the slow blues of Albert Collins “Lights Are On But Nobody’s Home” – one of Matt Schofield’s favourite blues guitarists, and over 10 minutes here the trio sparkle.

“Room At The Back” from the “Ear To The Ground” release again hits a funky, jazzy groove, and is followed by the shuffle of “On My Way”. The blues standard “Black Cat Bone” has long been a favourite of the live set, and here it is committed to cd for the first time – another tune of course always associated with the afore-mentioned late, great Albert Collins – the version here riding on a great groove, driven by Schofield’s guitar and the Hammond B3 of Jonny Henderson.

Schofield gives a modern edge to the oft-covered classic, “Sitting On Top Of The World”, with the set closing with a very stretched out take on The Box Tops hit, “The Letter”, a number one US hit at just under two minutes, and here a whopping 18:47 epic – with even a little dip into “Smoke On The Water”, as Schofield, Henderson and drummer Evan Jenkins all solo and demonstrate what a fine unit they are on this recording.

This is a welcome addition to the output of one of our finest guitar talents – I think it’s fair to say his vocals are still ‘a work in progress’ – who has just great tone and touch, and looks set fair to be around for a long, long time with his thrilling playing.


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