John Scofield needed someone who could keep an ungodly groove on a guitar, and do it quietly. A modern jazz guitar master with a Miles Davis stint on his résumé, Scofield was exploring the funk-based realm of acid jazz — a genre that demands a tight rhythm. He’d just begun to earn a following among jam-band enthusiasts with his spacey, stretched-out groove compositions, and he needed a rhythm guitarist hot enough to handle it but cool enough not to overdo it.
He scoured New York looking for his man, but without much luck. So in early 2000, Scofield asked former Berkeley resident and fellow jazz guitarist Charlie Hunter for a recommendation.
Hunter directed him to Avi Bortnick, a Bay Area guitarist working in architectural acoustics. “Charlie Hunter said, ‘This guy is the best rhythm guitar player in the world,'” Scofield recalls.