When guitarist Bill Frisell first began a more decided focus on roots music, bluegrass and country & western music with the release of 1996's Nashville (Nonesuch), despite being largely very well-received, jazz purists rankled when the largely bluegrass/folk-informed album began to garner awards like Downbeat Magazine's Best Jazz Album of the Year. While Frisell's oftentimes Americana-tinged work has, in the ensuing years, become more fully accepted for the wonderful music that it is, fellow six-stringer John Scofield is unlikely to find himself the subject of such purist criticism with Country for Old Men.
Guitarist John Scofield's debut as a leader was originally cut for the Japanese Trio label. Scofield's sound was already pretty recognizable this early in his career, although his playing was more funk-oriented than it would become. Scofield is teamed with bassist Clint Houston, drummer Motohiko Hino and (on two of the six selections) trumpeter Terumasa Hino. "Amy" is taken as an unaccompanied guitar solo, which gives the date a bit more variety. The music still sounds pretty strong over two decades later, although for John Scofield, there would be many more steps forward in his future development.
Guitarist John Scofield's final in a long series of releases for Gramavision 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.
Guitarist John Scofield's music of the '80s blended together funk with post-bop improvising. Although not as timeless as much of his work of the '90s, there are always moments of interest on his many recordings. For Electric Outlet, Scofield performs eight originals (the best-known is "Pick Hits") with a notable quintet and also including altoist David Sanborn, trombonist Ray Anderson, Pete Levin on synthesizer and drummer Steve Jordan; there is no bassist, although the leader often plays basslines. Intriguing music.
This CD reissue features guitarist John Scofield (who was then 27) searching for his own sound. Four of the selections from the original LP have Scofield backed by a light funky quartet while two other pieces feature him with three notable jazzmen: saxophonist Dave Liebman, bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Billy Hart.The CD is rounded off by four tunes originally on Scofield's Bar Talk LP but the same criticsm applies despite the excellent trio (with bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Adam Nussbaum) and the stronger jazz orientation.
Over the course of his four-decade career, guitarist John Scofield has maintained a successful dual career that alternates purer jazz with projects that skirt its edges and are aimed at a larger demographic. Not that there's anything wrong with that. His That's What I Say: John Scofield Plays The Music of Ray Charles (Verve, 2005) garnered critical and popular acclaim, keeping him on the road for the better part of a year, including a stellar performance in Gatineau, Quebec, near Ottawa, Canada, in October, 2005. After the exciting and stylistically assimilative This Meets That (EmArcy, 2007), Scofield turns to the blues/gospel-inflected Piety Street, a diversion for him, that's absolutely credible—and, in many ways, inevitable.
John Scofield is documented in his pre-Miles Davis period on Shinola, a 1981 date with Steve Swallow (electric bass) and Adam Nussbaum (drums). The guitarist's distinctive style is highly developed even at this stage in his career, combining elements of rock and rhythm 'n' blues with post-bop leanings and an uncanny, 'left-handed' lyricism, all colored with a lightly distorted, subtly phase-shifted tone, his legato lines embellished with bent notes, picked octaves and sweet 'n' sour cluster chords.