John Scofield

John Scofield

John Scofield, Moers Festival, Germany, 2006
Background information
Born (1951-12-26) December 26, 1951
Dayton, Ohio, U.S.
Genres Jazz, jazz fusion, acid jazz[1]
Occupation(s) Musician, composer
Instruments Guitar
Years active 1970s–present
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

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, Robert Glasper, and Gov't Mule.[3] At ease in the bebop idiom, Scofield is also well versed in jazz fusion, funk, blues, soul, and rock.[1]


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

Educated at the Berklee College of Music, 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. He recorded with Charles Mingus in 1976, and replaced Pat Metheny in Gary Burton's quartet.[5]

In 1976 Scofield signed with Enja Records and released his first album, John Scofield, in 1977. He recorded with pianist Hal Galper, first on his own solo album Rough House in 1978, and then on Galper's album Ivory Forest (1980), where he played a solo rendition of Thelonious Monk's "Monk's Mood".[6]

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

He started what is now 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, and Bill Frisell. This "most auspicious [pairing] since John McLaughlin and Carlos Santana"[9] was only transitory and recorded just two records, the self-titled Bass Desires and Second Sight (1986 and 1987).

Onstage in 2004

At the beginning of the 1990s, Scofield formed a quartet that included Joe Lovano with whom he recorded several albums for Blue Note Records.[10] Time on My Hands (1990), with Joe Lovano, Charlie Haden and Jack DeJohnette, showcased Scofield's guitar and Mingus-influenced 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 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, 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, he formed a 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.

At the International Jazz Festival Enschede, 2007

On September 26, 2006 he released Out Louder, his second collaborative effort album with avant garde jazz trio Medeski, Martin & Wood.[11] 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.

Scofield is currently serving as an adjunct faculty member in the Jazz Department at New York University's Steinhardt School of Education.[12]

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. 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.[13]


As leader and co-leader


As a sideman

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

Date Artist Album title Label Notes
1984George AdamsMore SightingsEnja
1985George Adams-Don Pullen QuartetLive at MontmartreTimeless
1987Franco AmbrosettiMoviesEnja
1988Franco AmbrosettiMovies TooEnja
1988Ray AndersonBlues Bred in the BoneEnja
1996Teodross AveryMy GenerationImpulse!
1977Chet BakerYou Can't Go Home AgainA&M
1977Chet BakerThe Best Thing for YouA&M
1979Joe Beck & Larry CoryellTributariesArista Novus
1989Richie BeirachSome Other TimeTriloka
1985Paul BleyHotSoul Note
1988Gary BurtonTimes Like TheseGRP
1992Gary BurtonSix PackGRP
1997Gary BurtonDepartureConcord
1989Terri Lyne CarringtonReal Life StoryVerve Forecast
1991Dennis ChambersGetting EvenGlass House/Pioneer (Japan)
1975Billy CobhamA Funky Thide of SingsAtlantic
1976Billy CobhamLife & TimesAtlantic
1978Billy CobhamInner ConflictsAtlantic J. S. on two tracks
1976Billy Cobham & George DukeLive on Tour in Europe Atlantic
1979Larry CoryellTributariesRCA/Novus
1990Bill Cosby & FriendsWhere You Lay Your HeadVerve
1991Lars DanielssonFresh EnoughL+R
1985Miles DavisYou're Under ArrestColumbia
1984Miles DavisDecoyColumbia
1983Miles DavisStar PeopleColumbia
2002Miles DavisThe Complete Miles Davis at Montreux 1973–1991Warner Switzerland
1990Joey DeFrancescoWhere Were You?Columbia
1992Jack DeJohnetteMusic for the Fifth WorldCapitol
2005John EllisOne Foot in the SwampHyena
1991Peter ErskineSweet SoulArista Novus
1994David FriesenTwo for the ShowITM Pacific
1979Hal GalperIvory ForestEnja
1987Roberto GattoAskInak
1988Mike Gibbs OrchestraBig TimeVenture
1990Benny GolsonRhythmstickCTI
1981Bill GoodwinSolar EnergyOmni Sound Jazz
2000Jon GordonPossibilitiesDouble-Time
1999Gov't Mule Featuring J. S.Sco-MuleProvogue Released 2015
1977Urbie GreenSeñor BluesCTI
1995Herbie HancockThe New StandardVerve
1988Tom HarrellStoriesContemporary
1993Jimmy HaslipA R CUMG
2003Roy HaynesLove LettersColumbia
2010Eddie HendersonFor All We KnowFurthermore
1993Joe HendersonSo Near, So Far (Musings for Miles)Verve
1997Joe HendersonPorgy & BessVerve
1999Joe HendersonQuiet Now: Lovesome ThingVerve J. S. on two tracks
1977Terumasa HinoMay DanceFlying Disk
1989Terumasa HinoBluestruckBlue Note
1995Ron HollowayStruttinMilestone
1986Marc JohnsonBass DesiresECM
1987Marc JohnsonSecond SightECM
2005Marc JohnsonShades of JadeECM
1991Eero KoivistoinenAltered ThingsTimeless
1993Lee KonitzRhapsody IIEvidence
1988Niels Lan DokyDaybreakStoryville
2006Phil Lesh and FriendsLive at the WarfieldImage
1979Dave LiebmanDon't Do It AgainTimeless
1980Dave LiebmanIf They Only KnewTimeless
1980Dave LiebmanWhat It IsColumbia
1990Manhattan Jazz QuintetManhattan BluesSweet Basil
1974Gary MarksGatheringArewea
1980Ron McClureDescendantsKen
[Ron McClureHome BaseODE
1979Jim McNeelyThe Plot ThickensMuse
1989Jim McNeely with the WDR Big BandEast Coast Blow OutLipstick
1971Jay McShannBig Apple BashNew World
2001MetalwoodThe ReclineVerve
1977Charles MingusThree or Four Shades of BluesAtlantic
1974Gerry Mulligan and Chet BakerCarnegie Hall ConcertCTI
1988Missing LinksGroovinMCAScofield on two tracks
1986L'Orchestre National du JazzOrchestre National du Jazz '86Label Bleu
1979Niels-Henning Ørsted PedersenDancing on the TablesSteepleChase
1998John PatitucciNowConcord Jazz
1983Jim PepperComin' and Goin'Antilles
1992Knut Riisnæs & Jon ChristensenKnut Riisnæs – Jon Christensen Featuring John Scofield – Palle DanielssonOdin
1979Zbigniew SeifertPassionCapitol
1988Tommy SmithStep by StepBlue Note
1999Tommy SmithBlue SmithLinn
1977Jeremy SteigFireflyCTI
1991Steve SwallowSwallowXtraWATT
1990Harvie SwartzIn a Different LightBlue Moon
1989Gary ThomasBy Any Means NecessaryJMT
1998Mark-Anthony TurnageBlood on the FloorDecca
1989McCoy TynerThings Ain't What They Used to BeBlue Note
1978Miroslav VitousGuardian AngelsTrio (Japan)
1984Bennie WallaceSweeping Through the CityEnja
1985Bennie WallaceTwilight TimeBlue Note
1987Bennie WallaceArt of the SaxophoneDenon
1987Bennie WallaceBorder TownBlue Note
1979Jack WalrathDemons in PursuitGatemouth
1982Peter WarrenSolidarityJAPO
2003Bugge WesseltoftNew Conception of Jazz LiveJazzland
1995Lenny WhitePresent TenseHip Bop
2007Keller WilliamsDreamSCI Fidelity



  1. 1 2 Stern, Chip (March 2001). "John Scofield: Will the Real John Scofield Please Stand Up?". JazzTimes. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  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. 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. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  8. Cf. John Scofield in an interview with John Kelman in 2011 for 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. Tamarkin, Jeff. "Out Louder - Medeski, Scofield, Martin & Wood". AllMusic. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  12. "Jazz Faculty: John Scofield". Steinhardt School of Education. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  13. "John Scofield - Jazz Guitarist & Composer". Retrieved 2012-02-23.

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