The trio of John Stowell (guitar), Jeff Johnson (acoustic bass) and John Bishop (drums), collectively known as Scenes, takes its name from a 2001 recording they made with saxophonist Rick Mandyck for Seattle's Origin label. "Along The Way" is their first release but it sounds like they've worked together for years.
Stowell, a fixture on the Northwest Creative music scene since the 1970s, is a fluid player who, like Monaco and Shepik above, never overreaches or wastes the listener's time with endless repetitions. This is music that breathes, that rarely stays in one place. For example, "Studio City" starts quietly, led in by bassist Johnson. Underneath his rich, melodic lines, Stowell adds soft guitar chords while Bishop is busy moving around his kit. Bishop's "busy work" sets the pace for the rest of the piece for soon after Stowell begins his solo, the intensity level jumps. There's a bluesy restlessness to opening moments of "Lonely Blue Angel", again created by the driving work of Bishop. This song also shifts gears, getting quieter, yet no less restless. Johnson is the "glue" of the trio, securing the bottom and allowing Bishop to explore many polyrhythmic options. Throughout the disk, Johnson's thick tones and fine melodic solos are impressive.
As trio recordings go, "Along The Way" displays a true "collective" sound. No one player stands above or apart from the rest - actually, that statement is true for all 3 CDs in this review. All contain music that one would happily sit in a club or concert hall to enjoy. These spirited recordings display musical creativity as its best.