John Scofield belongs on any list of the world’s top guitarists, the ones who make the other guitarists pay attention.
He’s much more than a technical guru — he’s a real inventor who always finds interesting things to say in his solos, and develops them well beyond the point where a lesser guitarist would start to flag.
He played here in 2009, and it’s a pleasure to welcome Scofield back to the Folly Theater this weekend, not a moment too soon.
Last time, he tore up the place with an austere guitar-bass-drums trio. This time, it’s a different setting, his Organic Trio, with two other top players who deserve more recognition, organist Larry Goldings and drummer Gregory Hutchinson.
Scofield thrives in diverse settings. He made his recording debut in a quiet, thoughtful group with Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker. In the ’80s, he played loud electric funk with Miles Davis. His own recordings include head-to-head matchups with fellow guitar leaders Pat Metheny and Bill Frisell. Besides his straight-ahead jazz work, he’s compatible with the players of the jam-band movement — ask former Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh or Allman Brothers guitarist Warren Haynes about him.
There seems to be a special place in Scofield’s heart, though, for the organ group. And it would be difficult to assemble a better organ group anywhere on Earth than the Organic Trio. So watch out for this one.
Scofield’s Organic Trio appears at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Folly, 300 W. 12th St. Tickets are $18 to $50; call816-474-4444 or go to FollyTheater.org
.Duke is king
It’s hard to get around the influence of Duke Ellington, no matter what you’re playing or singing in jazz. Maybe it’s better not to try — better to run straight toward the influence, to bathe in the sunshine of Duke’s creations.
So the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra, directed by Clint Ashlock, basks in the Ellington sunshine for the last concert of its season. The concert also has singers Ron Gutierrez and Kathleen Holeman joining the orchestra. And it has numbers from just about every phase of the long Ellington career — plus a generous sampling of Billy Strayhorn material.
The orchestra performs its Ellington tribute at 8 p.m. Friday at Helzberg Hall in the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $25 to $50; call816-994-7222 or go to Tickets.KauffmanCenter.org
It’s been an interesting journey for Diverse, with a second CD coming out right now. They were once four University of Missouri-Kansas City students trying to see if they could make it as a band. They made a big splash in a national competition in 2008, which led directly to their first album the next year.
There was a fifth member for a while. And then there were three — the core group of today, trumpeter Hermon Mehari, bassist Ben Leifer and drummer Ryan Lee, all charter members. Often another player or two sits in. They’ve even expanded to a much larger ensemble for their well-remembered “Diverse Plays Michael Jackson” shows.
But the core of three is very strong — unbreakable, we hope. And the players keep developing. That’s the theme of the band’s new CD, “Our Journey,” original material that shows several sides of what they’re up to.
The CD prominently features a fourth member who can’t always be with the band because he lives in Paris, pianist Tony Tixier. He’s crossing the pond to join the band for its CD release party. That happens at 8:30 p.m. Friday at the Blue Room, 1600 E. 18th St. Tickets are $10.
Diverse also shares the bill with the Black House Quartet (tenor saxophonist Hunter Long, guitarist Jeff Stocks, bassist Andrew Stinson and drummer Matt Leifer) in a concert the next night. They’ll perform at the Hollywood Theater, 500 Delaware St. in downtown Leavenworth, at 8 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door; call 913-651-2203 or go tolvks.org
and enter “jazz” in the search field.Noteworthy
• The Blue Room also has singer Eboni Fondren and her group the Ivories at 7 tonight and pianist Charles Williams’ quintet at 8:30 p.m. Saturday. The Jazz Disciples run the Monday jam at 7 p.m.
• Green Lady Lounge, 1809 Grand Blvd., has the group B Vibe with vibraphonist Peter Schlamb, organist Ken Lovern and drummer Brian Steever at 9 tonight; pianist Tim Whitmer at 5:30 p.m. Friday, followed by organist Chris Hazelton’s Boogaloo 7 at 10 p.m.; pianist Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle at 6 p.m. Saturday, followed by Lovern’s trio throwing a “Scofield party” at 10:30 p.m.; the Foundation 627 Big Band at 9 p.m. Sunday; a Kansas City Kansas Community College jazz showcase at 7 p.m. Monday, followed by the jam led by bassist Bob Bowman and pianist Roger Wilder at 9 p.m.; organist Everette DeVan at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, followed by Bram Wijnands and his B3 Bombers at 9 p.m.; and Lovern’s trio at 9 p.m. Wednesday.
• The Broadway Jazz Club, 3601 Broadway, has the Sons of Brasil at 7 tonight ; organist Dave Creighton’s band at 5:30 p.m. Friday, followed by Eboni Fondren’s quartet at 9 p.m.; singer Angela Hagenbach at 6 p.m. Saturday, followed by singer Megan Birdsall at 9:30 p.m.; Bowman’s trio at 7 p.m. Tuesday; and Bram Wijnands’ Swingtet at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
• Take Five Coffee + Bar, 5336 W. 151st St. in Leawood, has singer Molly Hammer at 8 p.m. Friday and Colorado band Electric Red, featuring bassist and sound engineer David Dovo and tenor saxophonist Josh Quinlan, at 8 p.m. Saturday.