On June 9th, jazz supergroup Hudson (Jack DeJohnette, Larry Grenadier, John Medeski, and John Scofield) released their self-titled debut album. Before its release, we spoke with guitarist John Scofield about the history between the group’s members as well as some of the inspirations for the record. Hudson is back in stock on ArkivJazz now!
On the formation of Hudson, the group
We hadn’t played together hardly at all before. We’ve all played together [in different configurations] a lot but not as this unit. We played one gig a couple of years ago at the Woodstock Jazz Festival.
I played a lot with MMW [Medeski, Martin and Wood] which became MSMW [Medeski, Scofield, Martin and Wood]. We did four records together over the years And Larry Grenadier and I have worked together a lot. Jack’s played with Larry Grenadier many times.
Jack said “Why don’t we put this back together and do a record and go on the road for a bit?” We all thought that was a good idea.
On using the name “Hudson” and the ideas behind the self-titled record
I forget who first called it Hudson... It might have been my wife Susan, actually.
The ideas was to take songs from the Woodstock era and groups who lived near Woodstock, with artists who are connected with the area, like Dylan and The Band and artists who actually played at the Woodstock Festival like Hendrix.
A lot of it’s from that golden rock and roll era and the songs are easy enough that you can make them go where you want. And also love them. You have to love the song first in order to have it speak to you as you’re playing it. The songs are great to begin with, and then we can do our thing on them. When we played some of the songs, like Woodstock, I was really thinking of Joni Mitchell – I love her solo version.
And Dylan, too. When we played these melodies, even when we screwed them up, those melodies are still those songs. And because I love the songs, I think of the artist. Subconsciously I hear them when I’m playing.
On almost attending Woodstock in 1969
I even had a ticket to the Woodstock Festival in 1969! I was going to take my dad’s car. I had a summer job and couldn’t go until Friday after work. By that time the thruway was shut down. It was only supposed to be a two hour drive. My dad said “You aren’t taking my car up there” So I didn’t go. I would have had a bad time.
On improvising with Hudson
The basis of it all is our commitment to jazz improvisation, really. We’re jazz musicians and we want to play these songs but also have them really be used as launching boards for us doing our thing... Which is interpreting material and then doing group improv and being all like-minded. I love playing with these guys.
Great website! I love it! Buy that jazz!