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Jazz - Released September 28, 2018 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

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At 66 years old, Sco remains fascinating. With about fifty albums as either the lead artist or under a shared credit, the guitarist from Ohio always finds interesting stories to tell. This time he uses a four piece including his old friend and drummer Bill Stewart (with whom he’s been playing since 1992!), bassist Vincente Archer (a member of Robert Glasper’s trio), and organist and pianist (keyboard) Gerald Clayton. “Guitar and keyboard are not always the easiest mix. Because of its percussive nature, the piano is relatively similar to the guitar. But Gerald has a beautiful touch and though he is quite modern, his style reminds me of Hank Jones or Tommy Flanagan, and that really is a beautiful legato sound that works well with the guitar.”Armed with his Ibanez AS200, John Scofield, aware of the guitar/keyboard clash, carefully delivers progressions and improvisations that perfectly complement Clayton’s playing style. Their back-and-forths send sparks flying on the up-tempo tracks such as Willa Jean and New Waltzo. The real success of this album is found in the way it puts the emphasis on swing, an eternal swing, like on King of Belgium. The track that closes Combo 66 is a homage to the Belgian harmonica master, Toots Thielemans, a man full of humanity and gifted with a wonderful sense of humour, a quality he shared with John Scofield. “If you can’t have fun playing music, go home! I always take jazz very seriously, but the fact is that it only works if you are relaxed and you don’t worry. If you try too hard, it simply doesn’t work. Humour really helps me find a better place with music.” © Max Dembo/Qobuz
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Jazz - Released September 25, 2015 | Impulse!

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Jazz - Released June 12, 2020 | ECM

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Rather than contempt, familiarity breeds a comfortable groove on Swallow Tales, a shared vision for a group of notable tunes written by the venerable bass veteran Steve Swallow. This straight-ahead conversation between old friends and musical partners was recorded in a brief four hours; the result is a flavorful snapshot of a long and fruitful relationship now over 40 years old between guitarist John Scofield and his mentor Swallow. The pair is accompanied by Scofield's go-to drummer, the versatile Bill Stewart, whom the guitarist has played with in a number of different musical contexts. Energized by the easy charm of musical instinct, this session opens with one of Swallow's most beautiful ballads, "She Was Young," before shifting to "Falling Grace," where Stewart's natural and infallible rhythms support Swallow who sweeps into his signature broken time bass style. Scofield stretches out and shows his sense of invention and flair for concise solos in a fast take "Portsmouth Figurations," a tune he first heard on one of his earliest album influences, Gary Burton's Duster. The most famous number "Eiderdown," (also the first tune Swallow ever wrote and has been covered by the likes of Chick Corea, Bill Evans and Phil Woods), receives a spirited run through with Scofield, who says he once struggled to master these changes. He deftly travels up and down the guitar neck, preferring high notes, while Stewart takes an orderly, articulate solo. Another oft-recorded tune, the waltzy "Hullo Bolinas," is taken at a brisk pace while the bassist's playful borrowing from Cole Porter—"In F"—also features another measured, tasteful solo from Stewart. A reunion more interested in bringing fresh insights to well-known repertoire than pushing envelopes, Swallow Tales is the sound of masters at work. © Robert Baird/Qobuz
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1998 | Verve

John Scofield owes a great deal to Medeski, Martin & Wood for the success of A Go Go. The piano/organ, bass, and drum playing trio adds a world of bouncing vibes to Scofield's inquisitive, happy guitar work here. A Go Go is an album of mostly breezy, sometimes tense, jam-based grooves. The album's charm is in its "city meets the tropics" feel. The four players create such a warm, vibrant sound that resisting the urge to tap one's feet along with the beat becomes a near impossibility. The opening song is a treat of plucked guitars and tightly packed new jazz. Other standouts are "Kubrick," a swooning, gentle change of pace packed with background tension, and "Hottentot," a tour de force of dynamic interplay. There's nary a moment of filler to be found across the ten tracks. It's clear that Scofield enjoyed the collaboration, as his guitars seem to nearly speak joy. His alternately jangling and plucking style sees him weaving in and out of the young trio's sound net with ample confidence. As fun as A Go Go is, it's just as well-sequenced, as Scofield and company vary their pace and tone expertly throughout the album's running time. A Go Go is far more than four cool cats jamming together and enjoying each other's company. It's an immensely entertaining, enlightening ride. © Tim DiGravina /TiVo
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Jazz - Released September 23, 2016 | Impulse!

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2013 | Universal Music Group International

Innovative jazz guitarist John Scofield has always utilized the languages of rock, blues, and R&B, from his earliest recordings for Enja and Gramavision through his tenure with Miles Davis. At the end of the 20th century, he indulged them more fervently on 1998's A Go Go with Medeski, Martin & Wood, and with a larger cast on 2000's Bump. But the first Überjam album, issued in 2002, employed funky jazz grooves that stretched all those musics with improvisational discovery. Up All Night followed, using mostly the same band but with added horns to fine effect. A decade later, Überjam Deux reunites the guitarist with guitarist/sampler Avi Bortnick and drummer Adam Deitch from the original unit, and bassist Andy Hess (from Up All Night). John Medeski guests on half-a-dozen cuts; drummer Louis Cato appears on four. With a core band so familiar with one another, Scofield is able to take his relentless curiosity far and wide. Bortnick is a wonderful rhythm guitarist; his fat-chord vamps and biting, single-line fills on either guitar or keyboards offer Scofield a fitting foil, that’s as integral as his own guitar or as the rhythm section to the mix. Bortnick's electronic loop and sample work is equally imaginative. Check the opener "Camelus," where his chunky, soulful four-chord vamp adds ballast to the rhythm section, but also a wiry harmonic center for Scofield. Medeski makes his presence heard on the reggae number "Dub Dub," where his organ comes whispering out of the ether of the implied melody, and adds another dimension to the smoky, head-nodding experience. "Cracked Ice" is jazz-funk at its very best, with Deitch and Hess firing away at the pocket and stretching it for Scofield to move along its ledge. "Al Green Song" may have been written by the guitarist, but it has Willie Mitchell and its subject's feel all through it, via beautiful interplay between Scofield and Medeski. "Scotown," with its Motown bassline, and dynamic chorus, is irresistible. These two tracks are 21st century soul-jazz with an exclamation point. "Toprero" is angular, fusion-like funk with smoking breaks by Deitch, while "Curtis Knew" is a ballad where Scofield tenderly suggests Curtis Mayfield's singing voice in his melody. The only cover here is the Main Ingredient's "Just Don't Want to Be Lonely." Here, while Scofield stays faithful to the spirit of the soul original in both his melodic statement and solo, Bortnick's rhythm guitar suggests later interpretations that have made it a reggae standard as well, creating a new hybrid of breezy yet intuitive invention. For those wary of a band that can re-assemble after a decade and still be vital, Überjam Deux should convince them otherwise; it's not only a logical extension of its predecessor, but despite its relaxed presentation, it is wonderfully creative in its pursuit of heart of the almighty groove. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2011 | Universal Music Group International

Guitarist John Scofield employs a deliberate theme on every album he releases. On his previous disc, Piety Street, it was grooving gospel. A Moment's Peace showcases the guitarist's softer side--with his knotty persona firmly intact. It's a collection of ballads comprised of original material ("Already September" and "Simply Put") to jazz standards ("I Loves You Porgy" and "You Don't Know What Love Is"), each played with his signature phrasing and woven through with elements of soul-jazz, post-bop, subtle funk, and even country, despite the laid-back feel. Scofield's sidemen this time out include drummer Brian Blade, organist Larry Goldings, and bassist Scott Colley. © Thom Jureik /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1994 | Blue Note Records

Guitarist John Scofield and tenor saxophonist Eddie Harris make a very complementary team on this upbeat set of funky jazz, for both have immediately identifiable sounds and adventurous spirits. Along with a fine rhythm section that includes Larry Goldings on piano and organ, Scofield and Harris interact joyfully on ten of the guitarist's originals. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1994 | Blue Note Records

Guitar wizards John Scofield and Pat Metheny have consistently made commercially successful, accessible music while remaining true to their improvisational leanings. It's no surprise that their collaboration sounds so relaxed, fluid, and musically serene. Listeners shouldn't necessarily expect a series of slashing duels, but it's certainly not vapid new age or retrograde fusion. Scofield and Metheny divide compositional duties and play masterful, expressive solos. Guitar fans will be especially impressed with the mastering, which makes Scofield and Metheny's guitars sound right in the room. Even those who don't like sessions without horns, brass, or keyboards shouldn't spurn this one; it still has plenty of muscle. © Ron Wynn /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2008 | Universal Music Group International

As a leader, guitarist, and composer John Scofield has made many different kinds of records over the course of his long career, as well as played on dozens more as a sideman to people like Miles Davis and Charles Mingus, to mention just two. His last offering, and his first for Emarcy, was This Means That, an adventurous blend of straight-ahead blowing and funk-oriented numbers that worked beautifully and yielded a slew of critical acclaim. Piety Street is a different story altogether. Scofield has assembled a crack band of more roots and groove-oriented sidemen to cut his version of a gospel album. He's backed by keyboardist and vocalist Jon Cleary (from Bonnie Raitt's fine road band), New Orleans super bassist George Porter, Jr., drummer Ricky Fataar (also of the Raitt band), Crescent City club band session vocalist John Boutté (whose singing is a staple of the city's vibrant music scene), and New Orleans drummer and percussionist Shannon Powell (formerly of the Harry Connick Orchestra). There are 13 cuts on Piety Street, ranging from well-known gospel standards such as " Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child," "His Eye Is on the Sparrow," "Walk with Me," and "I'll Fly Away" to classics within the genre, such as Dorothy Love Coates' "That's Enough," and "99 and a Half," the Rev. James Cleveland's "Something's Got a Hold on Me," and Thomas A. Dorsey's "Never Turn Back," with a couple of originals thrown in for measure. The temptation on a set like this to insert all sorts of improvisational touches, complex arrangements, and/or jamming opportunities is great, but to his credit, Scofield resists completely. These are songs and he treats them as such -- the vocalists are an obvious nod to this but the arrangements and instrumental interludes go even further. Everything from post-bop jazz, funk, blues, and reggae are grafted onto these songs and the transition is seamless. Scofield's own playing is ever present but understated, and Cleary and Porter are such an intensely focused rhythm team that their backdrops are drenched in grooves and soul. While it's true this is gospel music re-visioned by Scofield, it's still a gospel record, and carries within it the heart of that music's great traditions -- melody, complex harmonics, and lyricism. This is a winner all the way through. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2005 | Verve

With John Scofield, a big part of the fun is never knowing what the guitarist will do from one album to the next. He might provide an album that is abstract and cerebral, or he might come up with something funky and groove-oriented; That's What I Say: John Scofield Plays the Music of Ray Charles is a perfect example of the latter. Featuring well-known guest vocalists who include Dr. John, Mavis Staples (as in the Staple Sisters), Aaron Neville and John Mayer, this tribute to the late Ray Charles is definitely one of Scofield's more commercial projects -- which isn't to say that he shouldn't be proud of the album. Commercialism isn't necessarily a bad thing as long as it is tastefully done, and That's What I Say is a tasteful effort that finds Scofield fluctuating between instrumental soul-jazz and vocal-oriented soul. Produced by drummer Steve Jordan, this 65-minute CD isn't for jazz snobs, but rather, those who hold jazz and R&B in equally high regard -- and people who fit that description will appreciate Scofield's instrumental soul-jazz workouts on "Hit the Road, Jack," "Busted" and "Unchain My Heart," but will be equally receptive to the straight-up R&B singing of Neville on "You Don't Know Me" and Staples on Don Gibson's "I Can't Stop Loving You" (one of the many country songs that received an R&B makeover from Charles). The disc's only disappointing track is an instrumental version of Buck Owens' "Cryin' Time." Scofield uses the Bakersfield sound honky tonk classic as a brief interlude to "I Can't Stop Loving You," but "Cryin' Time" deserved more of his time than a minute and a half -- and it's regrettable that Scofield doesn't stretch out on the Owens gem. But overall, That's What I Say is a creative success for Scofield and the R&B and jazz artists who join him. © Alex Henderson /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1996 | Verve

Ironically, Quiet finds guitarist John Scofield using a much larger group of musicians than usual. The basic band has Scofield (who sticks to acoustic guitar), Wayne Shorter on tenor, bassist Steve Swallow, and either Bill Stewart or Duduka Da Fonseca on drums. They are joined by trumpeter Randy Brecker, two French horns, two woodwinds, Roger Rosenberg on bass clarinet, and Howard Johnson on tuba and baritone. Since Scofield is mostly in the lead, the music -- eight originals by the leader and a song by producer Swallow -- is indeed mostly at a lower volume, although there is plenty of heat, too. However, since the guitarist is less distinctive than usual due to his playing acoustically, this set is not quite as significant as his other Blue Note releases. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released April 28, 2000 | Ryko - Rhino

There are "loud" moments on this studio set, but the title cut's name is more a humorous attempt to describe the John Scofield Quartet's music than an accurate depiction of their style. The leader/guitarist, who sounds typically distinctive, welcomes guest keyboardist George Duke to five of his nine originals. Scofield's regular group of the era consisted of keyboardist Robert Aries, electric bassist Gary Grainger and drummer Dennis Chambers and they are also joined here by percussionist Don Alias. The music (which includes such numbers as "Tell You What," "Dirty Rice," "Wabash" and "Spy Vs. Spy") has few memorable melodies but plenty of dynamic playing by Scofield, who at this point was growing as a major stylist from album to album. A strong effort. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released October 13, 2000 | Ryko - Rhino

One of the top jazz guitarists from the mid-1980s on, John Scofield has always had a very recognizable sound and the ability to combine together R&B/funk with advanced jazz. He is the lead voice throughout most of this release, performing eight of his originals with a group also including keyboardist Mitchel Forman, electric bassist Gary Grainger, drummer Dennis Chambers, percussionist Don Alias and (on three of the numbers) Hiram Bullock on rhythm guitar. Although not for jazz purists, who should get his slightly later Blue Note releases instead, this set should interest guitar freaks. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1992 | Blue Note Records

John Scofield and Bill Frisell, two of the most distinctive guitarists of the 1990s (they previously fronted Marc Johnson's band Bass Desires,) team up on this quartet date with bassist Charlie Haden and drummer Joey Baron. While Scofield contributed all ten originals, Frisell with his wide variety of sounds and eccentric solos often comes close to stealing the show altogether. Five of the ten numbers add a three-piece brass section for color. The interplay between the two very different yet complementary guitarists is notable. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2003 | Verve

It isn't surprising that John Scofield spent some time in Miles Davis' employ. Like that innovative trumpeter, Scofield has always had a restless spirit. One never knows what to expect when a new Scofield album arrives; Up All Night, it turns out, pretty much picks up where its predecessor, Überjam, leaves off. Like Überjam, Up All Night is a fusion effort that manages to be intellectual and funky at the same time. Of course, intellect and funkiness don't automatically cancel one another out -- Davis demonstrated that on many occasions. But some artists have a hard time balancing the two in an effective way. Scofield, however, inhabits a place in which the cerebral and the funky not only co-exist -- they form an alliance and work together for the common good. Brain power is an integral part of what the guitarist does on jams like "Every Night Is Ladies Night" and the African-influenced "Thikhathali," but so are grit and blues feeling. If "Thikhathali" reminds you of the late Nigerian star Fela Kuti, it is no coincidence -- the tune is meant to have a strongly Nigerian flavor. But "Thikhathali" is far from an exact replica of Kuti's jazz-influenced Afro-pop; rather, Scofield puts a fusion spin on modern Nigerian music. Similarly, "Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get" (a major hit for the Dramatics in 1971) is Scofield's interpretation of Detroit soul. There are plenty of smooth jazz/NAC robots who would be happy to provide a note-for-note cover of that classic, but Scofield's approach -- he gives the song an unlikely jazz/rock/funk makeover -- is much more interesting. From "Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get" to ten tunes that Scofield wrote or co-wrote, Up All Night is a consistently engaging addition to his sizable catalog. © Alex Henderson /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1995 | Blue Note Records

John Scofield has continued to grow and evolve year by year. This 1995 set is quite blues-oriented, sometimes boppish and fairly laid-back, almost sounding like a Jimmy Smith or Groove Holmes date from the 1960s. Larry Goldings (who doubles occasionally on piano) is almost as significant in the ensembles as the leader/guitarist, and has become the most important arrival on organ since Joey DeFrancesco and Barbara Dennerlein. Many of the tunes (all Scofield originals) use parade-like rhythms propelled by Idris Muhammad and Dennis Irwin (particularly the eccentric "Peculiar" and "Groove Elation"), and the interplay between the two lead voices is quite appealing. Scofield is quite unselfish as far as taking solo space goes (he clearly enjoys the light funky grooves set by Goldings), and the results are quite appealing. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released May 5, 2000 | Ryko - Rhino

John Scofield, one of the most distinctive guitarists of the era, performs six of his originals with an all-star rhythm section that consists of keyboardist Don Grolnick, electric bassist Darryl Jones and drummer Omar Hakim. The music is funky, exploratory, sometimes disturbing and other times grooving. It crosses a variety of musical boundaries without fitting securely into any one genre. Although not one of Scofield's most significant sets, the stimulating music is worth investigating. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2004 | Verve

Following a series of coruscating servings of progressive uber funk for Verve, Scofield stripped down to a trio for this live session at New York's Blue Note club in December 2003. He hooked up with a pair of old friends, the terrific loose-limbed drummer Bill Stewart, and the tense, nimble bassist Steve Swallow, and the three go after each other in some often-furiously busy, driving, tangled interplay, defying the frigid New York weather of that period. Denzil Best's "Wee" gets a scorching, asymmetrical workout to start, and Swallow's "Name That Tune" promptly goes into super overdrive, with Scofield darting all over the place in his idiosyncratic way. "Hammock Soliloquy" varies between another of Scofield's irresistible, laid-back, country tunes and more combustible high-speed interplay, while "Bag" ain't nothin' but the blues with a volatile groove. A highly-convoluted trip through "It Is Written" precedes -- and partially pre-echoes -- a quiet ballad-tempo rendition of the Bacharach/David tune "Alfie." The closest thing to the jazz/funk jams of Scofield's recent past is an 11-minute closing workout called "Over Big Top" -- a paraphrase of "Bigtop" from his Groove Elation album -- churning and driving relentlessly. Leaning more toward Scofield's jazz side per se, this high-energy outing should pass the time quite agreeably until he unleashes another of his jazz/funk groove-a-thons. © Richard S. Ginell /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2000 | Verve

Guitarist John Scofield takes the traditional jazz route on Works for Me, an excellent collection of 11 compositions that feature the all-star lineup of Christian McBride on acoustic bass, Kenny Garrett on alto saxophone, Brad Mehldau on acoustic piano, and the dynamic Billy Higgins on drums. This CD is unlike the alternative rock and funk jazz fusion on his previous efforts A Go Go and Bump. On this offering, John Scofield gives a great reassessment of straight-ahead post-bop jazz that is distinguished and stimulating. On "Big J," Scofield and saxophonist Kenny Garrett make a great team as they reach out with a call and response improvisation that engrosses the listener throughout its development. On "Loose Cannon," Garret means business as he launches into some great straight-ahead hard blowing. The ensemble changes the mood on "Love You a Long Time" with a soft approach to this resonant, melodic ballad. Drummer Billy Higgins is impossible to miss on "Freepie" and Christian McBride performs his stellar top to bottom command of acoustic bass techniques throughout this great program. Christian McBride plays a great solo on "Heel to Toe." From the hard swinging "Do I Crazy?" to the tranquil "Mrs. Scofield's Waltz," the versatility of John Scofield shows why he is one of the "Big 3" of current jazz guitarists. © Paula Edelstein /TiVo