"It's hard to put a level on my music, like
jazz of fusion", says guitarist John Scofield. "It's instrumental music
that has one foot in the jazz tradition and the other in the popular traditions,
especially rhythm and blues. You know, jazz musicians don't live in a vacuum where they
only hear jazz". A veteran sideman (whose credits include, most notably three
years touring and recording with Miles Davis), Scofield has developed a formidable career
as a bandleader in his own right. Never quite fitting into the typical definition of jazz
fusion, the guitarist has worked his favorite aspects of jazz, blues, rock and country
into a personal style that is uncompromisingly original. His new Quartet embraces his
musical loves and complements them with fresh exploration of jazz traditions.
The guitarist's career has demonstrated a versatility as diverse as
his musical influences. Raised in Wilton, Connecticut, in 1951, the young Scofield
absorbed sounds and style from all sources; from The Beatles to John Coltrane. After
attending the Berklee School of Music, he moved quickly into the public eye when he began
playing with Gerry Mulligan in 1974. In years following, larger audiences heard Scofield
in the fusionesque George Duke/Billy Cobham Band. As the guitarist performed as a sideman
with prestigious bandleaders, he simultaneously launched his solo career in Europe.
Scofield enjoyed immediate success in a variety of musical configurations, the most
popular being a trio with Steve Swallow and Adam Nussbaum. His historic association with
Miles Davis from '82 to '85 enlarged his personal profile enough for him to break away
from sideman work and concentrate fully on own endeavors. His funk-oriented band with
Dennis Chambers became one of the most popular electric/instru- mental bands in the recent
The John Scofield Quartet, the latest chapter in the
continuing development of Scofield's solo career, is a marked departure from the electric
band and musical styles featured in the last few years. Using the talents of Joe Lovano on
tenor-saxophone, bassist Anthony Cox and drummer John Riley, Scofield sets out to showcase
a collection of new compositions. He explains:" All of these tunes were written
with this instrumentation in mind. The result is a project with more 'jazz' elements than
some of my earlier groups, but I haven't sacrificed diversity. In writing, I tried to
leave room for interpretation by the other musicians. Each of my musical influences are
still represented fully".
Joe Lovano is highly featured in the quartet, sharing the soloing responsibilities equally
with Scofield. Lovano has become one of the most respected and sought-after tenor-players
in Jazz today, contributing over the years to the recordings and performances of Paul
Motian, Elvin Jones, John Abercrombie, Carla Bley and Charlie Haden, just to name a few.
Lovano and Scofield share a very compatible approach to music and their unity is the most
compelling feature to the band. Drummer John Riley has shared bandstands with a wide range
of musicians: from Jazz mainstays like Stan Getz, Red Rodney and Dizzy Gillespie, to the
energetic ensembles of leaders like John Abercrombie , Gary Peacock, Randy Brecker and
Dave Liebman. As both a player and an educator, Riley stands out in his musicianship.
Anthony Cox has played a lot of "straight ahead" jazz during his career, but
swings equally as well in the more avant-garde arena. He's performed and recorded with
Elvin Jones, James Newton, David Murray, Henry Threadgill, Arthure Blythe, Jon Faddis and
Sam Rivers, among many.