John Scofield Decodes his Überjam Band

John Scofield discusses the funk, grooves, and freedom of his Überjam Band.

This band is coming from funk and grooves,” says Scofield. “It’s more rocked out than my trio, and I use more effects. I have a Boomerang looper that I use mostly for backwards stuff. I just play something into it, reverse it on the fly, and that keeps repeating. Sometimes, I turn off the original note, and it’s only the reversed part that comes out. Then, there’s my Rat distortion that I’ve used for years, an old Boss chorus pedal that I turn up all the way for a rotating- speaker effect, a Vox Cry Baby wah, and a Boss EQ that I set for a super-trebly sound for rhythm parts and real extravagant fuzz leads. I also have a DigiTech XP100 Whammy Wah, which I use mostly as an octaver and play things an octave up. It has this digital quality to the sound that I actually like, even though it’s kind of tacky. I just got a new Empress tremolo that I really like, and I have a small Neunaber Wet Reverb pedal and a mini TC Electronic tuner that are great because they don’t take up a lot of space on the pedalboard.

“The Überjam Band does a lot of jams over one-chord vamps. One of the advantages to that is that you can play very freely over the vamp. I’m really into that, and I’ve done it my whole career. I got into it real heavy with Miles Davis, and I saw all the possibilities of playing really freely. You see, when you play straight-ahead jazz that has a lot of changes, you need to practice a bunch and get fluid at it. You want to get to where you’re not thinking about the changes— you’re just playing melodically and rhythmically. Then, you need to get to the same place with one change that you were at with a lot of changes. Anytime the changes hang you up, it messes up the music.”