Interview: John Scofield - JazzWax

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March 28, 2012


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Jon Foley

I went to that Gerry Mulligan gig at the Jazz Workshop in Boston that Scofield mentions. I had never heard Mulligan with a piano (Tom Fay), a guitar and vibes before; it was interesting. Gerry had been drinking and was very loose - in a good way. In between sets, instead of going backstage or to the bar, he would sit at the piano and play continuously until the next set.
I went at least twice that week - maybe three times. After all, you can't hear too much Gerry Mulligan.

T.K. Tortch

First time I had ever heard of Scofield I happened to be in school at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland in the late '80's. I was a rock oriented kid with a punkish Athens, GA / Chapel Hill, N.C. "Alternative" aesthetic. Who knew I liked jazz. But not particularly jazz guitar.

While I was in Edinburgh there was a series of jazz concerts, part of some sort of loosely organized, jazz-themed series of concerts. Scofield was one, and, reading press clips about him, I decided I would check him out. At first sight (remember, I was a teenage punkish alterna-rocker) I thought, "meh". Visually, he was not, you know, a teenage punkish alterna-rocker.

But. I wasn't an idiot. I left pretty impressed, and more interested in jazz guitar than I had been. Plus he was admirably loud!!

I only relatively recently started checking out his recorded music, and far as I can tell he's gotten even better since I first saw him. There are so many guitarists, indistinguishable, but you always know it's him when you hear him.

(Incidentally, that series of concerts in Edinburgh also introduced me to, among others I've forgotten, Joe Henderson, Stephanie Grappelli, and Sonny Rollins.)

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of 55 More Songs," "Anatomy of a Song," "Rock Concert: An Oral History" and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax has won three Jazz Journalists Association awards.
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