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Columns » Livelong Days

Jazz hand

John Scofield takes the stage



Dancing at a jazz concert may be unfamiliar to traditional jazz listeners but it's par for the course when John Scofield takes the stage. So don't be surprised if you find your bones involuntarily rattling when he comes to 32 Bleu on Sunday, Aug. 3.

Scofield, a jazz guitarist, has continually expanded the definition of the idiom, grafting blues, country and rock onto the jazz style while establishing himself as one of the most influential jazz-guitarists since John McLaughlin.

The Ohio-born guitarist has played and recorded with the likes of Chet Baker, Herbie Hancock, Charles Mingus, and trumpet icon Miles Davis, with whom he toured for three years beginning in 1982.

But Scofield is much more than "the guy who played with a legend." Aside from his uncanny ability to incorporate divergent musical styles so fluidly and successfully into his idiosyncratic style, Scofield's collaboration with Medeski Martin and Wood led to the 1997 album A Go Go featuring plenty of funk and groove rhythms that signaled his most recent incarnation as practitioner of the "jazz jam." This hybrid jazz-funk-groove style attracts a younger crowd, more likely to be seen at a Phish or Leftover Salmon show than, say, at a Wynton Marsalis concert. Scofield's pure-jazz fans shouldn't get their knickers in a knot, though; his highly refined improvisational jazz-guitar will appeal to fans across the spectrum.

Part of Scofield's recent success in the crossover scene rests on his bandmates. Guitarist Avi Bortnick complements Scofield's own playing, and between the two of them, they seem to have an almost limitless musical range. Bassist Jesse Murphy, like Scofield, is musically eclectic and appreciates many styles while drummer Adam Deitch of the Average White Band keeps their groove on.

Scofield is touring in support of his most recent albums, berjam (2002) and Up All Night (2003).

-- Aaron Menza

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