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John Scofield

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John Scofield
Scofield at the Moers Festival in 2021
Background information
Born (1951-12-26) December 26, 1951 (age 72)
Dayton, Ohio, U.S.
GenresJazz, jazz fusion, acid jazz[1]
Occupation(s)Musician, composer
Years active1970s–present
LabelsEnja, Gramavision, Blue Note, Verve, EmArcy ECM

John Scofield (born December 26, 1951)[2] is an American guitarist and composer. His music over a long career has blended jazz, jazz fusion, funk, blues, soul and rock.[1] He first came to mainstream attention as part of the band of Miles Davis; he has toured and recorded with many prominent jazz artists including saxophonists Eddie Harris, Dave Liebman, Joe Henderson, and Joe Lovano; keyboardists George Duke, Joey DeFrancesco, Herbie Hancock, Larry Goldings, and Robert Glasper; fellow guitarists Pat Metheny, John Abercrombie, Pat Martino, and Bill Frisell; bassists Marc Johnson and Jaco Pastorius; and drummers Billy Cobham and Dennis Chambers. Outside the world of jazz, he has collaborated with Phil Lesh, Mavis Staples, John Mayer, Medeski Martin & Wood, and Gov't Mule.[3]


John Scofield was born in Dayton, Ohio; his family moved to Wilton, Connecticut where he discovered his interest in music.[4] Educated at the Berklee College of Music, Scofield left school to record with Chet Baker and Gerry Mulligan. He joined the Billy Cobham/George Duke Band soon afterwards and played, recorded, and toured with them for two years. He recorded with Charles Mingus in 1976 and replaced Pat Metheny in Gary Burton's quartet.[5]

In 1976 Scofield signed with Enja, which released his first album, John Scofield, in 1977. He recorded with pianist Hal Galper on Rough House in 1978 and then on Galper's album Ivory Forest (1980), where he played a solo rendition of "Monk's Mood" by Thelonious Monk.[6] In 1979 he formed a trio with his mentor Steve Swallow and Adam Nussbaum which, with drummer Bill Stewart replacing Nussbaum, became the signature group of Scofield's career.[7]

In 1982, he joined Miles Davis, with whom he remained for three and a half years. He contributed tunes and guitar to three of Davis's albums, Star People, Decoy, and You're Under Arrest.[8] After he left Davis, he released Electric Outlet (1984) and Still Warm (1985)

He began what is referred to as his Blue Matter Band, with Dennis Chambers on drums, Gary Grainger on bass, and Mitchel Forman, Robert Aries, or Jim Beard on keyboards. The band released the albums Blue Matter, Loud Jazz and Pick Hits Live. Marc Johnson formed Bass Desires with Peter Erskine, Bill Frisell, and Scofield. This "most auspicious [pairing] since John McLaughlin and Carlos Santana"[9] recorded two albums, Bass Desires (1986) and Second Sight (1987).

Onstage in 2004

At the beginning of the 1990s, Scofield formed a quartet which included Joe Lovano with whom he recorded several albums for Blue Note.[10] Time on My Hands (1990), with Joe Lovano, Charlie Haden, and Jack DeJohnette, showcased Scofield's guitar and Mingus-influenced (Charles Mingus)[citation needed] writing. Bill Stewart 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 guitarist Bill Frisell, with Charlie Haden on bass and Joey Baron on drums. Stewart rejoined Scofield and Steve Swallow for I Can See Your House from Here, a collaboration with Pat Metheny.

Near the end of the time he played with Blue Note, Scofield returned to a sound which included more funk and soul jazz.[citation needed] In 1994 and 1995, he formed a group with organist/pianist Larry Goldings, bassist Dennis Irwin, and alternating 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 with tenor saxophonist Eddie Harris, percussionist Don Alias, and trumpeter Randy Brecker. He recorded the 1997 album A Go Go with avant-garde jazz trio Medeski, Martin & Wood.

Also during that time he began to work with British composer Mark-Anthony Turnage. He appeared as a soloist on Turnage's Blood on the Floor: Elegy for Andy. They collaborated on Scorched, an album of Turnage's orchestrations of Scofield's compositions, largely from the Blue Matter period. John Patitucci and Peter Erskine performed at the live premiere of Scorched at the Alte Oper in Frankfurt in September 2002 with the Radio-Symphony-Orchestra Frankfurt and the hr-Bigband. The performance was recorded and released by Deutsche Grammophon.[11]

Scofield released Überjam in 2002 and Up All Night in 2003, two albums on which he experimented with drum and bass. He recorded in Europe with the Bugge Wesseltoft New Conception of Jazz in 2001–2002 and 2006. In 2004 EnRoute: John Scofield Trio LIVE was released with Steve Swallow on bass and Bill Stewart on drums. It was recorded live at the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York City in December 2003. That was followed the next year by That's What I Say: John Scofield Plays the Music of Ray Charles which led to 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 2005 with Phil Lesh and Friends, Scofield has played numerous shows with the band.

At the International Jazz Festival in Enschede, The Netherlands in 2007

On September 26, 2006 he released Out Louder, his second collaboration with Medeski, Martin & Wood.[12] The group, known collectively as MSMW, toured worldwide in 2006 and 2007. Scofield performed in a duo with John Medeski named The Johns and in a trio with Medeski and drummer Adam Deitch (Deitch is also a producer). He recorded music inspired by gospel on the 2009 album Piety Street with Jon Cleary and George Porter Jr.

On September 18, 2007, EmArcy released This Meets That, an album recorded with Steve Swallow, Bill Stewart, and a horn trio. In 2011 EmArcy released A Moment's Peace, recorded with pianist Larry Goldings, bassist Scott Colley, and drummer Brian Blade. Scofield's 2010 album 54 had its origin in the 1990s when Vince Mendoza asked him to play on Mendoza's first album. As director of the Metropole Orchestra, Mendoza collaborated with Scofield on arrangements of Scofield's compositions that were performed by the orchestra.

Scofield has been an adjunct faculty member in the Jazz Department in the Steinhardt School of Education at New York University.[13] Inside Scofield, a film by Joerg Steineck, a feature-length documentary about Scofield, was released in 2022.[14][15]


Scofield's first electric guitar was a Hagstrom; his "workhorse" is an Ibanez AS200 from 1982.[16] He endorses Ibanez and the company has a line of semi-hollow guitars named for him.[17] Steve Vai uses one on the road, for one of the songs from Inviolate.[18]

Awards and honors[edit]


As leader and co-leader[edit]

Date Album title Line-up Label Notes
1977 John Scofield Live Quartet Enja Live recording from Munich
1978 John Scofield Trio plus Terumasa Hino on two tracks Trio (Jp) Recorded in Tokyo; Re-released as East Meets West on Black Hawk in 1987
1978 Rough House Quartet as John Scofield Quartet Enja
1979 Who's Who? Quintet and two quartet tracks Arista Novus Re-released 1990 with the four originals from Bar Talk as bonus tracks
1980 Bar Talk Trio w/ Steve Swallow and Adam Nussbaum Arista Novus
1981 Shinola Trio w/ Swallow and Nussbaum Enja Live recording from Munich
1981 Out Like a Light Trio w/ Swallow and Nussbaum Enja Live recording, third day from the same concert venue as Shinola
1984 Electric Outlet Quintet w/ David Sanborn and Ray Anderson Gramavision Scofield plays also bass and DMX drum machine
1984 Solar with John Abercrombie, duos and three quartet tracks Palo Alto
1985 Still Warm Quartet Gramavision
1986 Blue Matter Quintet and sextet, first w/ Gary Grainger and Dennis Chambers Gramavision
1987 Loud Jazz Quintet Gramavision
1987 Pick Hits Live Quartet Gramavision Live recording
1989 Flat Out Quintet Gramavision
1990 Time on My Hands Quartet w/ Joe Lovano Blue Note Acoustic jazz supergroup featuring Charlie Haden and Jack DeJohnette.
1991 Meant to Be Quartet w/ Joe Lovano, Marc Johnson, and Bill Stewart Blue Note First Scofield record to feature drummer Bill Stewart.
1992 Grace Under Pressure Quartet w/ Bill Frisell plus horn section on half of the tracks Blue Note Frisell and Scofield had previously partnered in Marc Johnson's Bass Desires.
1993 What We Do Quartet w/ Joe Lovano, Dennis Irwin, and Bill Stewart Blue Note
1994 Hand Jive Sextet Blue Note Soul jazz session featuring saxophonist Eddie Harris two years before Harris's death.
1994 I Can See Your House from Here with Pat Metheny, quartet Blue Note
1995 Groove Elation Quartet plus horn section and percussion Blue Note Soul jazz session featuring the New Orleans style drumming of Idris Muhammad and organ by Larry Goldings .
1996 Quiet Trio plus horn section,
feat. Wayne Shorter on three tracks
Verve Scofield plays exclusively acoustic guitar, focus on arrangements, some light jazz waltzing and bossa nova, appropriate title
1998 A Go Go with Medeski Martin & Wood Verve First collaboration with avant-jazz-funk organ trio
1999 Old Folks with Kenny Garrett, Michael Brecker and David Friesen West Wind Conceptual compilation of equally dealt four leaders
2000 Bump Duo to quintet in altering constellations Verve Scofield plays acoustic guitar on some tracks and adds more sound effects, opens further up to (slightly) younger musicians like Tony Scherr, Kenny Wollesen and Mark De Gli Antoni introducing electronica
2001 Works for Me Quintet w/ Kenny Garrett and Brad Mehldau Verve Contemporary post-bop line-up and repertoire
2002 Überjam Überjam quartet up to sextet
as The John Scofield Band
Verve New band, first time with Avi Bortnick and Adam Deitch plus John Medeski, even more effects, reaching into dub reggae, jungle grooves, rap and samples
2003 Oh! as ScoLoHoFo w/ Joe Lovano, Dave Holland and Al Foster Blue Note Acoustic jazz quartet
2003 Up All Night Überjam quartet plus horns
as The John Scofield Band
Verve Überjam band with Andy Hess, bass guitar.
2004 Scorched with Mark-Anthony Turnage Deutsche Grammophon
2004 John Scofield Trio LIVE EnRoute Trio w/ Swallow and Bill Stewart Verve Live recording
2005 That's What I Say: John Scofield Plays the Music of Ray Charles Verve
2006 Saudades as Trio Beyond w/ Larry Goldings and Jack DeJohnette ECM one-time Tony Williams tribute band
2006 Out Louder as Medeski Scofield Martin & Wood Indirecto First recording of Medeski, Scofield Martin & Wood partnership with co-equal contributions from Scofield and Medeski Martin & Wood
2007 This Meets That Trio w/ Swallow and Bill Stewart plus horn section EmArcy
2009 Piety Street Quartet feat. vocals EmArcy
2011 A Moment's Peace Quartet EmArcy
2011 MSMW Live: In Case the World Changes Its Mind as Medeski Scofield Martin & Wood EmArcy Live recording
2013 Überjam Deux Überjam EmArcy Follow-up to Überjam from 2002 and Up All Night
2014 Juice as Medeski Scofield Martin & Wood Indirecto
2015 Past Present Quartet w/ Joe Lovano, Larry Grenadier and Bill Stewart Impulse!
2016 Country for Old Men Quartet w/ Larry Goldings, Steve Swallow and Bill Stewart Impulse! Literally old men embracing country
2017 Hudson Quartet w/ Jack DeJohnette, Larry Grenadier and John Medeski Motéma
2018 Combo 66 Quartet w/ Gerald Clayton, Bill Stewart and Vicente Archer Verve
2020 Swallow Tales Trio w/ Steve Swallow and Bill Stewart ECM
2022 John Scofield Solo ECM
2023 Uncle John's Band Trio w Vicente Archer and Bill Stewart ECM
John Scofield in 2017


As a sideman[edit]

Albums listed by year of release. (Links to artists and labels on first appearance.)

Date Artist Album title Label Notes
1974 Gary Marks Gathering Arewea
1974 Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker Carnegie Hall Concert CTI
1975 Billy Cobham A Funky Thide of Sings Atlantic
1976 Billy Cobham Life & Times Atlantic
1976 Billy Cobham & George Duke Live on Tour in Europe Atlantic
1977 Chet Baker You Can't Go Home Again Horizon
1977 Charles Mingus Three or Four Shades of Blues Atlantic
1977 Jeremy Steig Firefly CTI
1977 Urbie Green Señor Blues CTI
1977 Terumasa Hino May Dance Flying Disk
1977 Chet Baker The Best Thing for You A&M
1978 Billy Cobham Inner Conflicts Atlantic Scofield on two tracks
1978 Jay McShann The Last of the Blue Devils Atlantic
1978 Miroslav Vitous Guardian Angels Trio (Japan)
1979 Dave Liebman Doin' It Again Timeless
1979 Jim McNeely The Plot Thickens Muse
1979 Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen Dancing on the Tables SteepleChase
1979 Jay McShann The Big Apple Bash Atlantic
1979 Zbigniew Seifert Passion Capitol
1979 Martial Solal, Lee Konitz, John Scofield, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen Four Keys MPS
1979 Jack Walrath Demons in Pursuit Gatemouth
1979 Larry Coryell Tributaries Arista Novus
1979 Joe Beck & Larry Coryell Tributaries Arista Novus
1979 Hal Galper Ivory Forest Enja
1980 Dave Liebman If They Only Knew Timeless
1980 Dave Liebman What It Is Columbia
1980 Ron McClure Descendants Ken
1981 Bill Goodwin Solar Energy Omni Sound Jazz
1982 Peter Warren Solidarity JAPO
1983 Miles Davis Star People Columbia
1983 Jim Pepper Comin' and Goin' Antilles
1984 George Adams More Sightings Enja
1984 Miles Davis Decoy Columbia
1984 Eero Koivistoinen Picture in Three Colours Pro Three further tracks of this 1983 session in New York were released by the Finnish Rytmi magazine
1984 Bennie Wallace Sweeping Through the City Enja
Miles Davis The Complete Miles Davis at Montreux 1973–1991 Warner Switzerland Scofield on seven of the 20 cd box set released in 2002
1985 Miles Davis You're Under Arrest Columbia
1985 George Adams-Don Pullen Quartet Live at Montmartre Timeless
1985 Paul Bley Hot Soul Note
1985 Bennie Wallace Twilight Time Blue Note
1986 Tal Farlow, John Abercrombie, Larry Carlton, Larry Coryell, John Scofield, John Patitucci & Billy Hart All Strings Attached Verve Part of the 1986 concert series Jazzvisions: Made in America in Los Angeles
1986 Marc Johnson Bass Desires ECM
1986 L'Orchestre National du Jazz Orchestre National du Jazz '86 Label Bleu
1987 Franco Ambrosetti Movies Enja
1987 Ron McClure Home Base ODE
1987 Bennie Wallace Art of the Saxophone Denon
1987 Bennie Wallace Border Town Blue Note
1987 Roberto Gatto Ask Inak
1987 Marc Johnson Second Sight ECM
1988 Franco Ambrosetti Movies Too Enja
1988 Ray Anderson Blues Bred in the Bone Enja
1988 Gary Burton Times Like These GRP
1988 Tommy Smith Step by Step Blue Note
1988 Missing Links Groovin MCA Scofield on two tracks
1988 Mike Gibbs Orchestra Big Time Venture
1988 Tom Harrell Stories Contemporary
1988 Niels Lan Doky Daybreak Storyville
1989 Richie Beirach Some Other Time Triloka
1989 Terri Lyne Carrington Real Life Story Verve Forecast
1989 Jim McNeely w/the WDR Big Band East Coast Blow Out Lipstick Released in 1991 and reissued in 2014 on Jazzline
1989 Gary Thomas By Any Means Necessary JMT
1989 McCoy Tyner Things Ain't What They Used to Be Blue Note
1989 Terumasa Hino Bluestruck Blue Note
1990 Bill Cosby & Friends Where You Lay Your Head Verve
1990 Joey DeFrancesco Where Were You? Columbia
1990 Manhattan Jazz Quintet Manhattan Blues Sweet Basil
1990 Harvie Swartz In a Different Light Blue Moon
1990 Benny Golson Rhythmstick CTI
1991 Lars Danielsson Fresh Enough L+R
1991 Dennis Chambers Getting Even Glass House/Pioneer (Jp)
1991 Peter Erskine Sweet Soul Arista Novus
1991 Mike Gibbs Band Symphony Hall, Birmingham 1991 Dusk Fire Released in 2018
1991 Eero Koivistoinen Altered Things Timeless
1991 Steve Swallow Swallow XtraWATT
1992 Gary Burton Six Pack GRP
1992 Jack DeJohnette Music for the Fifth World Capitol
1992 Knut Riisnæs & Jon Christensen Knut Riisnæs – Jon Christensen Featuring John Scofield – Palle Danielsson Odin
1993 Lee Konitz Rhapsody II Evidence
1993 Jimmy Haslip A R C UMG
1993 Joe Henderson So Near, So Far (Musings for Miles) Verve
1994 David Friesen Two for the Show ITM Pacific
1995 Ray Drummond Continuum Arabesque
1995 Herbie Hancock The New Standard Verve
1995 Ron Holloway Struttin Milestone
1995 Lenny White Present Tense Hip Bop
1996 Teodross Avery My Generation Impulse!
1997 Gary Burton Departure Concord Jazz
1997 Joe Henderson Porgy & Bess Verve
1997 Chris Potter Unspoken Concord Jazz
1998 Mark-Anthony Turnage Blood on the Floor Decca
1998 John Patitucci Now Concord Jazz
1999 Ulrik / Scofield / Danielsson / Erskine Shortcuts – Jazzpar Combo 1999 Stunt
1999 Joe Henderson Quiet Now: Lovesome Thing Verve Scofield on two tracks
1999 Tommy Smith Blue Smith Linn
1999 Gov't Mule Featuring John Scofield Sco-Mule Provogue Released in 2015
2000 Jon Gordon Possibilities Double-Time
2000 Bill Evans (saxophonist) Soul Insider ESC guitar on 8 & 10 (two tracks)
2001 Metalwood The Recline Verve
2001 Project Logic with John Scofield Sharin' in the Groove Who Is She Music? Charity tribute album for Phish and The Mockingbird Foundation. Guitar on "Cars Trucks Buses".
2002 Chris Potter Traveling Mercies Verve
2003 Roy Haynes Love Letters Columbia
2003 Bugge Wesseltoft New Conception of Jazz Live Jazzland
2005 Marc Johnson Shades of Jade ECM
2005 John Ellis One Foot in the Swamp Hyena
2006 Phil Lesh and Friends Live at the Warfield Image
2007 Keller Williams Dream SCI Fidelity
2009 Assembly of Dust Some Assembly Required Rock Ridge Music Guitar on "Borrowed Feet"
2010 Metropole Orkest Featuring John Scofield 54 EmArcy Conducted by Vince Mendoza
2010 Eddie Henderson For All We Know Furthermore
2021 Scary Goldings Scary Goldings IV Pockets Inc.


  1. ^ a b Stern, Chip (March 2001). "John Scofield: Will the Real John Scofield Please Stand Up?". JazzTimes. Archived from the original on 24 September 2016. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  2. ^ "John Scofield Music, News and Photos – AOL Music". Music.aol.com. Archived from the original on 2012-12-02. Retrieved 2013-07-05.
  3. ^ Small, Mark. "Berklee | Berklee College of Music". Berklee.edu. Retrieved 2011-10-18.
  4. ^ "All About Jazz Bio". Allaboutjazz.com. Archived from the original on 2008-09-05. Retrieved 2011-10-18.
  5. ^ Yanow, Scott. "Yahoo Music artist Bio". Music.yahoo.com. Retrieved 2011-10-18.
  6. ^ Yanow, Scott. "Ivory Forest – Hal Galper, Hal Galper Quartet". AllMusic. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  7. ^ "John Scofield Trio featuring Steve Swallow & Bill Stewart". Jazz St. Louis. Archived from the original on 28 September 2012. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  8. ^ Kelman, John (2011). Interview. AllAboutJazz. Retrieved August 10, 2013.
  9. ^ Bass Desires at AllMusic. Retrieved November 11, 2012.
  10. ^ Cole, Tom (27 December 2015). "For John Scofield, Everything Old Is New Again — Even The Hard Parts". NPR. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  11. ^ Cf. credits on album.
  12. ^ Tamarkin, Jeff. "Out Louder – Medeski, Scofield, Martin & Wood". AllMusic. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  13. ^ "Jazz Faculty: John Scofield". Steinhardt School of Education. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  14. ^ "INSIDE SCOFIELD – A film about John Scofield". Scofield.joerg-steineck.com. Retrieved 15 October 2023.
  15. ^ "'Inside Scofield' (film by Joerg Steineck)". London Jazz News. November 25, 2022.
  16. ^ Yates, Henry (May 12, 2015). "John Scofield on his workhorse Ibanez and advice to his younger self". Music Radar. Retrieved November 5, 2023.
  17. ^ "John Scofield Ibanez JSM-100". Jazz Guitar Today. July 1, 2020. Retrieved November 5, 2023.
  18. ^ Horsley, Jonathan (September 15, 2023). "'It's like John Scofield took acid': Steve Vai's tech shares the story behind the virtuoso's psychedelic semi-hollow". Guitar World. Retrieved November 5, 2023.
  19. ^ a b c d "John Scofield". GRAMMY.com. June 4, 2019.
  20. ^ "The 50 GIANTS of Jazz Guitar in alphabetical order – Saban Jazz & Bossa School". Jazzandbossaguitar.com. Retrieved 2019-02-20.

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