It's been a decade since Up All Night (Verve, 2003), John Scofield's second and, at the time it seemed, final album with his Überjam band, a group of younger players who, following his earlier forays into the territory--1998's first meeting with Medeski, Martin & Wood, A Go Go (Verve), and the larger-casted Bump (2000)--placed the guitarist smack dab on the jam band map with a combination of viscerally accessible grooves and oodles of solo space to focus on his more soulful, blues-tinged side. Still, regardless of context, Scofield has always possessed a singular ability to push even the most seemingly ...read more
[This article originally appeared at my Jazzamatazz blog in April 2011.]John Scofield is one of the world's most influential and respected guitarists, a musician and composer who has worked with many of the greatest names in jazz: Chet Baker, Gary Burton, Billy Cobham, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Charles Mingus, Gerry Mulligan and scores of others. His 30 plus solo recordings have taken his fans on a remarkably wide-ranging musical journey--from straight ahead jazz, bebop, and fusion, to funky experimental outings with Medeski, Scofield, Martin, and Wood, and even gospel jazz fusion with his Piety Street Band. On his ...read more
John ScofieldNew Morning: The Paris Concert Inakustik2010 There once was a time when it was nearly impossible to keep up with your favorite artist because, back in the pre-internet Stone Age, you had to rely on less regular media and word of mouth. Nowadays, between internet and social media, it's become easy to know what that artist is up to, because if he burps, you can read about it somewhere. A great thing, in principle, but the problem we have now is that there's so much information to assimilate on a ...read more
Sometimes a recording comes together easily, with a minimum of muss or fuss. Other times, life seems to conspire against it, but that doesn't necessarily mean it doesn't get done, or that it suffers as a result. Sometimes, in fact, it can make the end result even better. For John Scofield--one-third of a power trifecta of guitarists, also including Pat Metheny and Bill Frisell), who emerged in the mid-1970s to become some of their generation's most influential and highly regarded jazz artists--the road to his latest release, the aptly titled A Moment's Peace (EmArcy, 2011), was riddled with complications. But ...read more
John Scofield A Moment's Peace EmArcy 2011 In a career just entering its fifth decade, John Scofield may have covered a lot of stylistic territory--from the burning modality of Rough House (Enja, 1978), funkified fusion of Blue Matter (Gramavision, 1987) and N'awlins leanings of Piety Street (EmArcy, 2009), to jamband workouts like A Go Go (Verve, 1998), burning modern mainstream on Time On My Hands (Blue Note, 1990) and the contemporary classicized Scorched (Deutsche Grammophon, 2004)--but if a single word had to be chosen to describe the guitarist, it would have to be: incendiary. ...read more
John Scofield & Joe Lovano QuartetThe Egg, Albany NYJanuary 30, 2011 Catching the John Scofield & Joe Lovano Quartet wasn't just a case of experiencing two remarkable improvisers exercising their art, though there was that. With the incessant, fabulous rhythms of drummer Bill Stewart, and the rock-solid bottom supplied by bassist Matt Penman, there was great group synergy. Even though Scofield is one of the finer jazz guitarists and Lovano is a saxophonist with few peers, they both want it that way.The group was excellent, hot as ever on a frigid winter night ...read more
Metropole Orkest / John Scofield / Vince Mendoza54Emarcy2010
Guitarist John Scofield's shared history with Vince Mendoza dates back to the composer/arranger/conductor's Start Here (World Pacific, 1990) and Instructions Inside (EMI/Manhattan, 1991)--two criminally out of print gems that provided early evidence of Mendoza's distinctive harmonic language, compositional perspicacity and innate ability to get the best out of an ensemble, regardless of the size. Now an in-demand, Grammy Award-winning producer/arranger who has worked with everyone from trumpeter Randy Brecker and the late keyboardist Joe Zawinul to singers Joni Mitchell and Björk, it ...read more
John Scofield is documented in his pre-Miles Davis period on Shinola, a 1981 date with Steve Swallow (electric bass) and Adam Nussbaum (drums). The guitarist's distinctive style is highly developed even at this stage in his career, combining elements of rock and rhythm 'n' blues with post-bop leanings and an uncanny, 'left-handed' lyricism, all colored with a lightly distorted, subtly phase-shifted tone, his legato lines embellished with bent notes, picked octaves and sweet 'n' sour cluster chords. Nussbaum provides edgy momentum while Swallow's agile bass fills in the texture with commentary and counterpoint. Scofield's improvisations often sound ...read more
Over the course of his four-decade career, guitarist John Scofield has maintained a successful dual career that alternates purer jazz with projects that skirt its edges and are aimed at a larger demographic. Not that there's anything wrong with that. His That's What I Say: John Scofield Plays The Music of Ray Charles (Verve, 2005) garnered critical and popular acclaim, keeping him on the road for the better part of a year, including a stellar performance in Gatineau, Quebec, near Ottawa, Canada, in October, 2005. After the exciting and stylistically assimilative This Meets That (EmArcy, 2007), Scofield turns to the ...read more
John Scofield's Piety Street is an exercise in musicology, but it's also much more than that. Without sacrificing the prominence of his electric guitar playing--just utilizing it from a different perspective--this gospel blues album further demonstrates how he has executed similar fusions, in altogether different contexts, throughout his extensive 36-album career.
Just as Scofield doesn't play in an obvious way, simultaneously staccato and fluid, so, too, does he pursue his renewed interest in blues from an unusual angle. That's Enough" sounds like a simple declaration of faith, but what's noteworthy about the track is the supple means by which Scofield ...read more
Guitarist John Scofield's This Meets That is a trio record--sort of. While Scofield has old friends and collaborators Steve Swallow and Bill Stewart on board as his rhythm section, the guitarist also enlisted quite a horn section for this venture: Roger Rosenberg, Lawrence Feldman, Jim Pugh and John Swana add a harmonic lushness and punch to the arrangements. The originals on the disc are classic Scofield. While there is plenty to please jam-band fans, jazz guitar aficionados will be in six-string heaven as well: The Low Road" is a funky, swinging track that manages to be melodic ...read more
John Scofield Trio + Horns Jazz CafeLondon, England March 29, 2008
How to begin a review of a concert at which one's musical outlook has been picked up, shaken about, flung around haphazardly and finally set back down in a completely different state?
John Scofield has enjoyed a rich and varied career, the nature of which is aptly mirrored in his guitar playing. Material from his latest album, This is That (Emarcy, 2008), was the subject of his two-night stand at London's Jazz Cafe. The occasion was an increasingly rare instance of the venue ...read more
Guitarist John Scofield is an unassuming chap, seemingly at ease with himself and most things around him. He's ever congenial. Clever and well-grounded. Catch him wearing spectacles, and his look is professorial.
But don't, for a minute, think Scofield isn't serious about music. The status he's achieved in the music world was accomplished with hard work, listening to the people and sounds around him, absorbing many influences, then putting it forth--through his instrument and through composition--in a way that is honest and forthright. He appeals to musicians and music aficionados. And he's done it in a ...read more
John Scofield has been keeping good company: The legendary guitarist followed up his Grammy-nominated turn with the super group Trio Beyond by recording with Medeski, Martin & Wood and touring with Phil Lesh & Friends. Even Scofield's Ray Charles tribute That's What I Say (Verve, 2005) was an all-star bash featuring Mavis Staples and Dr. John. With This Meets That, Scofield has the spotlight all to himself, and the results are very good.
Although Steve Swallow and Bill Stewart are back as Scofield's rhythm section, the former Miles Davis sideman isn't retreating into a comfort zone. ...read more
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