Modern Jazz Guitar
John Scofield is an acclaimed American jazz guitarist and composer, who has played and collaborated with Miles Davis, Joe Henderson, Charles Mingus, Joey Defrancesco, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, Bill Frisell, Pat Martino, Mavis Staples, Phil Lesh, Billy Cobham, Medeski Martin & Wood, George Duke, Jaco Pastorius, John Mayer and many other well known artists.
At ease in the bebop idiom, Scofield is also well versed in jazz fusion, funk, blues, soul, and other forms of modern American music.
One of the “big three” of current jazz guitarists (along with Pat Metheny and Bill Frisell), John Scofield’s influence grew in the ’90s.
Possessor of a very distinctive rock-oriented sound that is often a bit distorted, Scofield is a masterful jazz improviser whose music generally falls somewhere between post-bop, fusion, and soul jazz.
He started on guitar while at high school in Connecticut, and from 1970-1973 Scofield studied at Berklee and played in the Boston area.
After recording with Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker at Carnegie Hall, Scofield was a member of the Billy Cobham-George Duke band for two years. In 1977 he recorded with Charles Mingus, and later joined the Gary Burton quartet and Dave Liebman’s quintet.
His own early sessions as a leader were funk-oriented. During 1982-1985 Scofield toured the world and recorded with Miles Davis. Since that time he has led his own groups, played with Bass Desires, and recorded frequently as a leader for Gramavision and Blue Note, using such major players as Charlie Haden, Jack DeJohnette, Joe Lovano, and Eddie Harris.
Scofield started a long-term relationship with the Verve label in 1996 with his acoustic album Quiet. He cut the funky A Go Go with Medeski, Martin & Wood in 1997 while 2000′s Bump featured members of Sex Mob, Soul Coughing, and Deep Banana Blackout. 2001′s Works for Me featured a more traditional jazz sound, but for 2002′s Uberjam and 2003′s Up All Night, he was back to playing fusion.
Drummer Bill Stewart and bassist Steve Swallow rounded out the John Scofield Trio for 2004′s cerebral and complex live album EnRoute. In 2005, Scofield paid tribute to legendary soul man Ray Charles with That’s What I Say.
Never one to follow an expected path, in recent years Scofield launched a personal search for musical inspiration beyond the standard 12 bar blues and found it in “old time gospel music – the closest relative to and inspiration for the R& B.”
His 2009 release Piety Street with bass legend George Porter, Jr. and singer/keyboardist Jon Cleary. The collaboration heard on the 2010 release 54 had its origins back in the 90′s when Vince Mendoza asked John Scofield to play on his first album.
John has since been featured on two of Vince’s records and his guitar sound and improvisational skills work well within Vince’s concept. When Mendoza assumed directorship of The Metropole Orchestra, he and Scofield decided to collaborate again with a primary focus on Mendoza’s arrangements of Scofield compositions as performed with The Metropole Orchestra.
In a return to Scofieldesque “straight ahead” jazz, he went back in the studio in January 2011 with pianist Mulgrew Miller, bassist Scott Colley and drummer Brian Blade, laying the tracks for a ballads album scheduled for a May 2011 release on EmArcy Records.
In April 2010, Scofield was named an Officier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture.
Scofield is currently serving as an adjunct faculty member in the Jazz Department at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Education.