(a.k.a. the finalforthcoming! column for JazzTimes)
John Scofield was onstage with his Ibanez at the B.B. King Blues Club & Grill, a cavernous basement in Times Square, sounding pithy and resourceful. He parsed his solos into sharply asymmetrical phrases, often smearing or scrunching a note for emphasis. At times he set off an electronic sampler, building a riff in layers. He was working at his usual high level; there was plenty to absorb. So why was I thinking, even for the briefest instant, about a Scofield edition of Guitar Hero?
You’ve heard of Guitar Hero, right? And its arch competitor, Rock Band? If you haven’t, that probably means you have no close family members between the ages of 5 and, let’s say, 25. Or it might mean that said family members are bookish, Amish or otherwise dead serious about their avoidance of modern pop culture. (It happens. At 14, I was way into Harry James.) But the phenomenal success of these home-console video games -- Guitar Hero alone has sold more than 25 million units worldwide -- is changing the music business on virtually every front. So in recent months I’ve often wondered about its implications for jazz. I’ve also caught myself fretting, so to speak, about the potential lack of implications, and what that could portend.