Jazz education is America's oral history, and the composers of jazz, contemporary and classic, are as the wise, sagely men and women who have carried the sacred knowledge of the people since time immemorial.

From the bayou of New Orleans to the streets of Chicago and the bridges of New York City, the incontrovertible truth stands tall, that the inspirations of African-American culture have endured, with the firmest foothold on American soil. From here, the roots have spread to the ends of the earth.

For this reason, and not this reason alone, jazz remains a steadfast pillar of cultural syncretism, honoring the tapestry of peoples who call America home, like a jazz enthusiast would appreciate a rare, unpredictable harmony.

The incomparable multiform composer and legendary jazz guitarist John Scofield is absolutely exemplary as an artist true to his beliefs. Single-handedly, Scofield disembowelled tradition, remaking the sound of the guitar one delicious, 99-cent New York slice of sonic fusion at a time.

Two decades later, he has reunited with a mutually generous benefactor in the business of musical enlightenment, tenor saxophonist and composer Joe Lovano, who has a gargantuan sound. His music asserts the raw exhilaration of a rare master upholding the foundation of urban jazz.

Scofield and Lovano are visionaries in the world of electro-acoustic fusion. Truly, as in the John Scofield and Joe Lovano Quartet, both archetypes demand one another, the iconoclast and traditionalist. And in doing so, they exude the feel-good essence of jazz from root to fruit, the psychedelic experimentalism blooming out and over the noetic masses like a Western wildfire.

Hot off the new release, "Past Present", the Quartet played "Museum" and "Hangover" by Scofield, a cathartic stretch into the noosphere of triumphant, blissful musical wanderlust. Lovano bellowed vociferously in rewind with "Ettenro" (Ornette spelled backwards, his dedication to Coleman) together with drummer Bill Stewart, who shook the foundations of the shrine befitted with abstract, free jazz sound sculptures galore.

Jazz, in the continuous strength of such legendary voices as Scofield and Lovano, proves to remind the listening many why coloring outside of the lines is crucial to the art of living. The untaught lesson, as in improvisational self-discovery, is perhaps the most enduring quality of jazz.

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From This Author Matt Hanson

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