01.28.15 ‘Sco-Mule’ - Gov’t Mule ft. John Scofield [Full Stream + Zumic Review]
Today is a day Gov’t Mule fans have been patiently waiting for. The band has released Sco-Mule, an archival two-disc live album recorded in the cities of Atlanta and Athens, Georgia in 1999 with jazz guitarist John Scofield and keyboardist Dan Matrazzo as special guests. At the time of this recording, Gov’t Mule consisted of Warren Haynes on vocals and guitar, Matt Abts on drums, and the late Allen Woody on bass.
The shows on this album mark the first time Warren Haynes and John Scofield performed together live. In an interview with Billboard, Warren Haynes reflected on how Sco-Mule fit in the band’s history:
I think there were some people in the audience that had no idea we were going to do that much instrumental music and that much jazz-influenced music… but it still sounds like us. When I hear it now, it sounds just as fresh as it did then. It captures us meeting for the first time, musically speaking. It started out as an experiment and turned into something that kind of changed the course of our music.
The album gets started off with “Hottentot,” a funky number with undeniable jazzy tendencies. Matt Abts adds a skillful drum solo towards end that flows back into the song’s main rhythm. Wayne Shorter’s “Tom Thumb” follows with tight jazz rhythm guided by Allen Woody’s thick bass. Dan Matrazzo’s keyboard solo feels breezy and efficient. Scofield plays a solo that doesn’t miss a note, and Warren’s clean guitar tone is lively. The two guitarists can be heard feeding off each other’s energy as the song draws to a close.
Sco-Mule features a number of cover tunes, including a couple by James Brown’s old backing band, The J.B.’s. “Doing It To Death” starts with an experimental feel before settling into a groove. Warm keys from Dan Matrazzo give way to Scofield’s funky wah-wah solo. Allen Woody holds the song’s foundation down with his bass, allowing Warren to rip another impressive solo.
Another highlight is “Birth of the Mule,” a track from Gov’t Mule’s 1998 album Dose. If Miles Davis were alive today, he’d be blown away by this 15 minute stew of jazz influenced guitar, prog rock, and exploratory jamming.