At 70 years old, John Scofield has been pushing musical boundaries and subverting genre norms since the early ’80s when he attained notoriety playing guitar with Miles Davis. His new group, Yankee Go Home, keeps to that tradition, bridging the gaps between jazz, rock, and funk with far-out interpretations of classic songs.

The quartet featuring Jon Cowherd on piano/keys, Vicente Archer on bass, and Josh Dion (Paris Monster) on drums is in the midst of its first tour. On Saturday, the group stopped at the brand new Patricia Reser Center For The Arts, aka The Reser, in Beaverton, OR for a sold out concert presented by PDX Jazz as part of their Spring Season.

The mostly older audience poured into the modern 550-cap concert hall eager to find out how Scofield’s new project would sound, quickly filling the underlit, church pew-like seats, which seemed to beg the question, “Will everyone sit the whole time?” The answer was yes, despite the fact that the band came out swinging with some high-velocity organ jazz that made the room feel like a jumping dance club, if only in spirit. Featuring Jon Cowherd on the Hammond B3, the opening number was a bit of a tease, as the keyboardist immediately turned around and played piano the rest of the show. The energy remained high, though, as Sco greeted the Oregon crowd.

“Good to be in Portland, and in Beaverton,” the guitarist said, seeming to remember mid-sentence that this particular PDX Jazz show was actually in Beaverton, OR, home of Nike‘s headquarters. He went on to say that the band would play “some oldies the baby boomers in the crowd might know,” adding, “and if you’re not a baby boomer, and you’re sitting next to a baby boomer, you can ask them, and they’ll be crying next to you because they’re caught up in nostalgia of their eighth grade dance.”

Despite the prologue, Scofield’s set featured tunes that, while old, are widely appreciated by all generations, including Bob Dylan‘s “Mr. Tambourine Man” and Hall and Oates‘s “I Can’t Go For That”. Another highlight of the set was the band’s cover of Grateful Dead‘s “Uncle John’s Band”, which Scofield prefaced with an acknowledgement of the late Jerry Garcia.

“This next one is a Jerry Garcia tune, and we get to play it cause it’s my band—no, it’s my band,” he said jokingly.

The Grateful Dead cover fluctuated between familiar vocal melodies played on guitar in Scofield’s distinctive style and “out” jazz jams that would have made the Dead themselves blush, but the tune wrapped up nicely to enthusiastic applause from the delighted crowd.

Without a doubt, one of the defining features of Yankee Go Home was the expressive drumming and captivating presence of Josh Dion. Best known for his duo project Paris Monster, for which he plays drums and synths and sings at the same time, Dion used two sticks instead of the usual one, except when he tucked them both beneath his arm to play the drums with his hands, brushes, or tambourine. Like a combination of pocket master Nate Smith and rock powerhouse John Bonham, the drummer flaunted his jazz chops and abstract sense of groove throughout the night while supplying the expressive faces that were lacking from the band’s masked leader.

Jon Cowherd and Vicente Archer were a little more reserved in their presence, but each lifted the crowd with musical benefactions whenever the band laid back for them to solo. Cowherd’s piano solos were especially moving, displaying emotion, style, and technical expertise.

Of course, the focal point of the performance was John Scofield himself, who delivered both lyrical guitar leads and tasteful comping as he wound through seven songs over 90 minutes. In addition to the aforementioned covers, the set included renditions of “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” by Neil Young and “Wichita Lineman” by Glenn Campbell. After taking a bow, the band was invited back by the audience for an encore that concluded the concert before 10 p.m.

John Scofield’s Yankee Go Home will continue on the road in the coming days with stops in New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New Jersey. John Scofield also has upcoming tour dates in Europe, and he will join Phil Lesh and Friends on June 4th and again on July 1st. For more information and to purchase tickets to any upcoming show, visit John Scofield’s website.

View photos from Saturday’s Beaverton performance below courtesy of Norm Eder.

John Scofield Tour Dates:

26 – Pawling, NY
27 – Fall River, MA
28 – Rockport, MA
29 – Holyoke, MA
30 – Durham, NH

01 – Redbank, NJ
12 – Zurich, Switzerland
14 – Oslo, Norway
15 – Tromso, Norway
16 – London, UK
17 – Budapest, Hungary
20 – Copenhagen, Denmark
21 – Milano, Italy
22 – Pordenone, Italy
23 – Innsbruck, Austria
24 – Berlin, Germany
25 – Dortmund, Germany
27 – Rotterdamn, Netherlands
29 – Bergen, Norway