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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

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 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, 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
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Jazz - Released February 1, 1980 | Legacy Recordings

1980's Bar Talk features a young John Scofield already showing the virtuosity on guitar that subsequently made him a giant in his field. Scofield -- who honed his chops with artists like Miles Davis, Gerry Mulligan, Pat Metheny, Chick Corea, Chet Baker, and Charles Mingus -- displays his talents here as both a player and composer. Scofield is joined in the venture by Steve Swallow on bass and Adam Nussbaum on drums -- a perfectly balanced trio. The Connecticut-born Scofield, who studied jazz at the renowned Berklee School of Music in Boston, spent much of his professional life gigging in Europe. This recording was made by the trio during one of its European tours. The album was well received at the time of its printing in 1980. Its influence has grown, becoming a jazz guitar classic, often listed as a favorite recording by professional critics, other musicians, and fans alike. Most of the songs are penned by Scofield himself. Steve Swallow contributed one tune, the elegiac "Never." The songs are long enough to allow the music to develop, with each musician taking his turn in the jazz conversation. "Fat Woman," "New Strings Attached," and "How to Marry a Millionaire" give the listener a good sampling of the capabilities of these musicians as they morph through a range of moods and colors. The set ends with "Nature Calls," a nod to the double-entendre titles for which Scofield is known. The musician likes to joke around and have fun, but make no mistake, John Scofield is serious about his music. © Rose of Sharon Witmer /TiVo
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Jazz - Released October 27, 2000 | Ryko - Rhino

Guitarist John Scofield's final in a long series of releases for Gramavision (he would soon sign with Blue Note) finds him looking ahead toward his future directions. His sidemen -- organist Don Grolnick, acoustic bassist Anthony Cox, and either Johnny Vidacovich or Terri Lyne Carrington on drums -- join him for standards including "Secret Love" and "All the Things You Are," some New Orleans R&B grooves (most notably on "Rockin' Pneumonia"), and a variety of Scofield's originals. The funk element heard on most of his earlier recordings is downgraded in favor of swinging in spots, and despite his trademark distorted tone, Scofield plays some solos that are almost boppish. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2007 | Universal Music Group International

This Meets That finds guitarist John Scofield looking both backward and forward. It's his first recording for the Emarcy label, but for the occasion Scofield resurrected the trio he'd used on several previous albums, most recently 2004's EnRoute: bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Bill Stewart. Never one to rest on his laurels, Scofield has throughout his career applied his virtuosity to several different streams of jazz, ranging from fusion-esque to orchestral to straight bop. This Meets That is something of a mixed bag. The opening track, the Scofield-penned "The Low Road," is a swinging funk jam that's one of several tunes on the record to employ a four-piece horn section. It's a smoker of a track, with Scofield often teasing with distortion but never straying so far away that it might be called unmelodic. In addition to the Scofield originals, three left-field cover songs demonstrate Scofield's ability to apply his technique and imaginative thinking to just about anything he chooses. Perhaps one shouldn't be surprised that a musician always looking to expand his reach would try his hand at squeezing a classic country hit into a jazz framework, but that's what Scofield does on the old Charlie Rich ballad "Behind Closed Doors." It's a sweet, bluesy take and Scofield maintains a pure, clear, non-ironic tone as he explores the song's nuances. The album-closing "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," from the Rolling Stones' songbook, is treated much the way Otis Redding once did, as a forceful soul stomper (albeit with brilliant soloing), and "House of the Rising Sun," a traditional blues recorded by dozens of diverse artists, but perhaps best known from the Animals' 1964 hit, veers far from its familiar melody as Scofield plays tag with guest guitarist Bill Frisell and Stewart and Swallow race around each other and the two stringsmen. "Heck of a Job," its title an obvious reference to President Bush's much-ridiculed "heck of a job, Brownie" statement in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, does use as its foundation a rhythmic base that could have come from New Orleans' Meters, while "Strangeness in the Night" isn't that strange at all, with its stop-and-go rhythm and punchy interplay. "Pretty Out," however, is pretty out there, not quite anarchic but open-ended and frisky. This Meets That, as its title implies, is less of a thematic album than some of Scofield's more recent endeavors, but it's one that reminds listeners that both his chops and sense of adventure are not only intact but still growing. © Jeff Tamarkin /TiVo
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Jazz - Released September 23, 2016 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

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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 October 22, 2010 | Yellowbird Records

Fine trio date from '81, with guitarist John Scofield stretching out in multiple directions and showing his facility with the swing style, mainstream, and jazz-rock genres. Besides his fluid, inventive solos, Scofield works well with bassist Steve Swallow, who approaches his instrument like a second guitar, and drummer Adam Nussbaum. © Ron Wynn /TiVo
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Classical - Released January 1, 2003 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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Jazz - Released January 18, 2005 | Enja Horst Weber

This set features some high-quality post-bop guitar playing by the immediately distinctive John Scofield. The four lengthy selections -- three originals and an over 15-minute rendition of "Softly as in a Morning Sunrise" -- find Scofield, pianist Richie Beirach, bassist George Mraz and drummer Joe LaBarbera really stretching out. The music holds one's interest throughout and shows how mature a player the guitarist was even during his early pre-Miles Davis period. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2007 | Universal Music Group International

This Meets That finds guitarist John Scofield looking both backward and forward. It's his first recording for the Emarcy label, but for the occasion Scofield resurrected the trio he'd used on several previous albums, most recently 2004's EnRoute: bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Bill Stewart. Never one to rest on his laurels, Scofield has throughout his career applied his virtuosity to several different streams of jazz, ranging from fusion-esque to orchestral to straight bop. This Meets That is something of a mixed bag. The opening track, the Scofield-penned "The Low Road," is a swinging funk jam that's one of several tunes on the record to employ a four-piece horn section. It's a smoker of a track, with Scofield often teasing with distortion but never straying so far away that it might be called unmelodic. In addition to the Scofield originals, three left-field cover songs demonstrate Scofield's ability to apply his technique and imaginative thinking to just about anything he chooses. Perhaps one shouldn't be surprised that a musician always looking to expand his reach would try his hand at squeezing a classic country hit into a jazz framework, but that's what Scofield does on the old Charlie Rich ballad "Behind Closed Doors." It's a sweet, bluesy take and Scofield maintains a pure, clear, non-ironic tone as he explores the song's nuances. The album-closing "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," from the Rolling Stones' songbook, is treated much the way Otis Redding once did, as a forceful soul stomper (albeit with brilliant soloing), and "House of the Rising Sun," a traditional blues recorded by dozens of diverse artists, but perhaps best known from the Animals' 1964 hit, veers far from its familiar melody as Scofield plays tag with guest guitarist Bill Frisell and Stewart and Swallow race around each other and the two stringsmen. "Heck of a Job," its title an obvious reference to President Bush's much-ridiculed "heck of a job, Brownie" statement in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, does use as its foundation a rhythmic base that could have come from New Orleans' Meters, while "Strangeness in the Night" isn't that strange at all, with its stop-and-go rhythm and punchy interplay. "Pretty Out," however, is pretty out there, not quite anarchic but open-ended and frisky. This Meets That, as its title implies, is less of a thematic album than some of Scofield's more recent endeavors, but it's one that reminds listeners that both his chops and sense of adventure are not only intact but still growing. © Jeff Tamarkin /TiVo