John Scofield

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John Scofield
John Scofield at Moers Festival 2006, Germany
Background information
Born (1951-12-26) December 26, 1951 (age 64)
Dayton, Ohio, United States
Genres Jazz, post-bop, jazz fusion, jazz funk, acid jazz, nu jazz
Occupation(s) Musician, composer
Instruments guitar
Years active 1970s-present[1]
Labels Enja, Gramavision, Blue Note, Verve, EmArcy
Associated acts Miles Davis, Billy Cobham, Pat Metheny, Steve Swallow, Marc Johnson, Joe Henderson, Joe Lovano, Medeski Martin & Wood, Trio Beyond
Notable instruments
Ibanez Artist Series AS200

John Scofield (born December 26, 1951, Dayton, Ohio, United States),[2] often referred to as "Sco", is an American jazz-rock guitarist and composer, who has played and collaborated with Miles Davis, Dave Liebman, 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,[3] and many other well-known artists. At ease in the bebop idiom, Scofield is also well versed in jazz fusion, funk, blues, soul, rock and other forms of modern American music.


Early in his life, Scofield's family left Ohio and relocated to the small, then mostly rural location of Wilton, Connecticut; it was here that he discovered his interest in music.[4]

Educated at the Berklee College of Music, John Scofield eventually left school to record with Chet Baker and Gerry Mulligan. He joined the Billy Cobham/George Duke Band soon after and spent two years playing, recording and touring with them. Scofield recorded with Charles Mingus in 1976, and replaced Pat Metheny in Gary Burton's quartet.[5] In autumn 1976 he signed a contract with Enja Records, and he released his first album, John Scofield, in 1977. Around this time, he toured and recorded with Pianist Hal Galper, first on his own solo album Rough House in 1978, and Galper's album Ivory Forest (1980), where he is heard playing a solo rendition of Thelonious Monk's "Monk's Mood". In 1979 he formed a trio with his mentor Steve Swallow and Adam Nussbaum which, with drummer Bill Stewart replacing Nussbaum, has become the signature group of Scofield's career. In 1982, he joined Miles Davis, with whom he remained for three and a half years. He contributed tunes and guitar work to three Davis recordings, Star People, You're Under Arrest and Decoy.[6]

While still with Miles Davis, he released the first of his Gramavision recordings Electric Outlet (1984). Still Warm (1985) followed after he left Davis's group. At the end of the Davis tenure, he started what is now referred to as his Blue Matter Band - with Dennis Chambers on drums, Gary Grainger on bass and at times either Mitchel Forman, Robert Aries or Jim Beard on keyboards - releasing Blue Matter, Loud Jazz and Pick Hits Live. The mid-80's were also the time, when Marc Johnson assembled his first own ensemble Bass Desires with Peter Erskine on drums, and Bill Frisell beside Scofield as two guitarists of distinctive but complementing styles. This “most auspicious [pairing] since John McLaughlin and Carlos Santana[7] was only transitory and recorded just two records, the self-titled Bass Desires and Second Sight (1986 and 1987).

At the beginning of the 1990s, John Scofield formed his quartet that included Joe Lovano with whom he recorded several important albums for Blue Note Records. Time on My Hands (1990), with Joe Lovano, Charlie Haden and Jack DeJohnette, showcased John Scofield's guitar and Mingus-influenced writing. Bill Stewart subsequently became the group's drummer, and played on Meant to Be (1991) and What We Do (1993). In 1992, Scofield released Grace Under Pressure, featuring fellow guitarist Bill Frisell, with Charlie Haden on bass and Joey Baron on drums. Stewart rejoined with Scofield and bassist Steve Swallow for the 1994 collaboration with Pat Metheny, I Can See Your House from Here.

Towards the end of his tenure with Blue Note, John Scofield returned to a more funk and soul jazz-oriented sound, a direction which has dominated much of his subsequent output. In 1994 and 1995, Scofield formed a core group that included organist/pianist Larry Goldings, bassist Dennis Irwin, and alternately drummers, Bill Stewart and Idris Muhammad. The group toured extensively, and the albums Hand Jive and Groove Elation feature this funk/groove/soul-jazz dimension in Scofield's music, bringing in tenor saxophonist Eddie Harris, percussionist Don Alias, trumpeter Randy Brecker, and others. He recorded the acclaimed 1997 album A Go Go with the avant garde jazz trio Medeski, Martin & Wood. Also during this period, his relationship began with British composer Mark-Anthony Turnage. First as a soloist on Turnage's Blood on the Floor: Elegy for Andy, the two paired up to create Scorched, Turnage's orchestrations of Scofield compositions largely form the Blue Matter period. Scorched, a recording available on Deutsche Grammophon, debuted in Frankfurt, Germany.

He released Überjam in 2002 and Up All Night in 2004, two albums on which he experiments with drum n bass and other modern rhythms. John Scofield has also worked and recorded in Europe with nu-fusionist Bugge Wesseltoft New Conception of Jazz in 2001/2 and 2006. Late 2004 saw the release of EnRoute: John Scofield Trio LIVE, which features the jazz trio of John Scofield, the venerable Steve Swallow on bass and Bill Stewart on drums. It was recorded live at The Blue Note in NYC in December 2003. The next year, he released That's What I Say: John Scofield Plays the Music of Ray Charles - Scofield with an all-star guest studded collection of Ray Charles material. This led to a series of performances with Mavis Staples, Gary Versace on organ, John Benitez on bass, and Steve Hass on drums.

After sitting in for two engagements in December (3rd & 4th) of 2005 with Phil Lesh and Friends, Scofield has since played numerous shows with the band.

On September 26, 2006 he released Out Louder, his second collaborative effort album with avant garde jazz trio Medeski, Martin & Wood. The group, known collectively as MSMW toured extensively worldwide in 2006 and 2007, with sporadic engagements planned in the future. Scofield also performs as a duo with John Medeski - aptly named The Johns and another groove trio with Scofield, Medeski and drummer Adam Deitch.

September 18, 2007 saw This Meets That released on EmArcy Records - Universal Music's jazz label, a record featuring his trio with Steve Swallow and Bill Stewart. This time John added a horn section to expand the sound of his trio.

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 1990s 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 Mendoza'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 to the studio in January 2011 with pianist/organist Larry Goldings, bassist Scott Colley and drummer Brian Blade, laying the tracks for a ballads album titled A Moment's Peace 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.[citation needed]

Scofield is currently serving as an adjunct faculty member in the Jazz Department at New York University's Steinhardt School of Education.

He married Susan Scofield in 1978. They are the parents of music producer Jean Scofield (born 1981) and Evan Scofield (1987–2013).


Scofield endorses Ibanez guitars. His signature guitar, the JSM100, is based on his longtime stage and recording guitar, a 1981 Ibanez AS200 which he believes to be one of the best semi-acoustics ever built.[citation needed] He gets his tone by running a Pro Co RAT through either a Vox AC30 or Mesa Boogie amplifier. Some of his effects include an Ibanez CS9 Analog Chorus, a Line 6 FM4 Filter Modeler, and a Line 6 DL4 Delay Modeler. Some of his additional effects include a DigiTech XP100 Whammy/Wah, a Boss EQ Pedal, a Boss Loop Station, and a Boomerang phrase sampler pedal. John Scofield uses Dunlop Delrin 2 mm picks.[8]


Onstage in 2004
John Scofield playing at the International Jazz Festival Enschede, 2007.

As leader and co-leader[edit]


As a sideman[edit]

Albums listed alphabetically by group or artist's last name.

Date Artist Album title Label Notes
1984 George Adams More Sightings Enja
1985 George Adams-Don Pullen Quartet Live at Montmartre Timeless
1987 Franco Ambrosetti Movies Enja
1988 Franco Ambrosetti Movies Too Enja
1988 Ray Anderson Blues Bred in the Bone Enja
1996 Teodross Avery My Generation Impulse!
1977 Chet Baker You Can't Go Home Again A&M
1977 Chet Baker The Best Thing for You A&M
1979 Joe Beck & Larry Coryell Tributaries Arista Novus
1989 Richie Beirach Some Other Time Triloka
1985 Paul Bley Hot Soul Note
1988 Gary Burton Times Like These GRP
1992 Gary Burton Six Pack GRP
1997 Gary Burton Departure Concord
1989 Terri Lyne Carrington Real Life Story Verve Forecast
1991 Dennis Chambers Getting Even Glass House/Pioneer (Japan)
1975 Billy Cobham A Funky Thide of Sings Atlantic
1976 Billy Cobham Life & Times Atlantic
1978 Billy Cobham Inner Conflicts Atlantic J. S. on two tracks
1976 Billy Cobham & George Duke Live on Tour in Europe" Atlantic
1979 Larry Coryell Tributaries RCA/Novus
1990 Bill Cosby & Friends Where You Lay Your Head Verve
1991 Lars Danielsson Fresh Enough L+R
1985 Miles Davis You're Under Arrest Columbia
1984 Miles Davis Decoy Columbia
1983 Miles Davis Star People Columbia
2002 Miles Davis The Complete Miles Davis at Montreux 1973-1991 Warner Switzerland
1990 Joey DeFrancesco Where Were You? Columbia
1992 Jack DeJohnette Music for the Fifth World Capitol
2005 John Ellis One Foot in the Swamp Hyena
1991 Peter Erskine Sweet Soul Arista Novus
1994 David Friesen Two for the Show ITM Pacific
1979 Hal Galper Ivory Forest Enja
1987 Roberto Gatto Ask Inak
1988 Mike Gibbs Orchestra Big Time Venture
1990 Benny Golson Rhythmstick CTI
1981 Bill Goodwin Solar Energy Omni Sound Jazz
2000 Jon Gordon Possibilities Double-Time
1999 Gov't Mule Featuring J. S. Sco-Mule Provogue Released 2015
1977 Urbie Green Señor Blues CTI
1995 Herbie Hancock The New Standard Verve
1988 Tom Harrell Stories Contemporary
1993 Jimmy Haslip A R C UMG
2003 Roy Haynes Love Letters Columbia
2010 Eddie Henderson For All We Know Furthermore
1993 Joe Henderson So Near, So Far (Musings for Miles) Verve
1997 Joe Henderson Porgy & Bess Verve
1999 Joe Henderson Quiet Now: Lovesome Thing Verve J. S. on two tracks
1977 Terumasa Hino May Dance Flying Disk
1989 Terumasa Hino Bluestruck Blue Note
1995 Ron Holloway Struttin Milestone
1986 Marc Johnson Bass Desires ECM
1987 Marc Johnson Second Sight ECM
2005 Marc Johnson Shades of Jade ECM
1991 Eero Koivistoinen Altered Things Timeless
1993 Lee Konitz Rhapsody II Evidence
1988 Niels Lan Doky Daybreak Storyville
2006 Phil Lesh and Friends Live at the Warfield Image
1979 Dave Liebman Don't Do It Again Timeless
1980 Dave Liebman If They Only Knew Timeless
1980 Dave Liebman What It Is Columbia
1990 Manhattan Jazz Quintet Manhattan Blues Sweet Basil
1974 Gary Marks Gathering Arewea
1980 Ron McClure Descendants Ken
1987 Ron McClure Home Base ODE
1979 Jim McNeely The Plot Thickens Muse
1989 Jim McNeely with the WDR Big Band East Coast Blow Out Lipstick
1971 Jay McShann Big Apple Bash New World
2001 Metalwood The Recline Verve
1977 Charles Mingus Three or Four Shades of Blues Atlantic
1974 Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker Carnegie Hall Concert CTI
1988 Missing Links Groovin MCA J. S. on two tracks
1986 L'Orchestre National du Jazz Orchestre National du Jazz '86 Label Bleu
1979 Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen Dancing on the Tables Steeple Chase
1998 John Patitucci Now Concord Jazz
1983 Jim Pepper Comin' and Goin' Antilles
1992 Knut Riisnæs & Jon Christensen Knut Riisnæs - Jon Christensen Featuring John Scofield - Palle Danielsson Odin
1979 Zbigniew Seifert Passion Capitol
1988 Tommy Smith Step by Step Blue Note
1999 Tommy Smith Blue Smith Linn
1977 Jeremy Steig Firefly CTI
1991 Steve Swallow Swallow XtraWATT
1990 Harvie Swartz In a Different Light Blue Moon
1989 Gary Thomas By Any Means Necessary JMT
1998 Mark-Anthony Turnage Blood on the Floor Decca
1989 McCoy Tyner Things Ain't What They Used to Be Blue Note
1978 Miroslav Vitous Guardian Angels Trio (Japan)
1984 Bennie Wallace Sweeping Through the City Enja
1985 Bennie Wallace Twilight Time Blue Note
1987 Bennie Wallace Art of the Saxphone Denon
1987 Bennie Wallace Border Town Blue Note
1979 Jack Walrath Demons in Pursuit Gatemouth
1982 Peter Warren Solidarity JAPO
2003 Bugge Wesseltoft New Conception of Jazz Live Jazzland
1995 Lenny White Present Tense Hip Bop
2007 Keller Williams Dream SCI Fidelity


In 1998, John Scofield was granted the Miles Davis Award by the Montreal International Jazz Festival.


  1. ^ Yanow, Scott (1951-12-26). "John Scofield". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-10-18. 
  2. ^ "John Scofield Music, News and Photos - AOL Music". Retrieved 2013-07-05. 
  3. ^ Small, Mark. "BERKLEE | Berklee College of Music". Retrieved 2011-10-18. 
  4. ^ "All About Jazz Bio". Retrieved 2011-10-18. 
  5. ^ Yanow, Scott. "Yahoo Music artist Bio". Retrieved 2011-10-18. 
  6. ^ Cf. John Scofield in an interview with John Kelman in 2011 for AllAboutJazz. Retrieved August 10, 2013
  7. ^ Bass Desires at AllMusic. Retrieved November 11, 2012.
  8. ^ "John Scofield - Jazz Guitarist & Composer". Retrieved 2012-02-23. 

External links[edit]