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INTERVIEW: John Scofield - JazzWax

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Monday April 02, 2012

from JazzWax

Interview: John Scofield
By Marc Myers

John Scofield has one of the most distinctive sounds of all the electric guitarists who came of age in the jazz-fusion era in the early 1970s. John is able to make his notes ring like a bell, and his lines are horn-like, living in the space just where rock meets the funky blues.

John is perhaps best known today for his period with Miles Davis, though he has recorded plenty of albums before and after. With Miles, John recorded Star People, You’re Under Arrest and Decoy, as well as all of the touring dates in the U.S. and Europe between 1982 and 1985.

In my conversation with John, 60, the guitarist talks about entering the jazz space with rock exposure, and his experience with Davis:

JazzWax: Where did you grow up?
John Scofield: In Wilton, Conn. My parents had met in Washington, D.C., during World War II. My father was a market researcher for a petrochemical company. He knew a great deal about rubber. I was born in Dayton, Ohio, but we moved to Houston for a year in 1959 when he worked for a company there. Then we moved to Wilton when he took a job nearby at Mobil Chemical. [Pictured above, John Scofield in 1963 with his first guitar]

JW: Were you a prodigy, or did you take to music slowly?
JS: The latter is probably accurate. In my suburban town, everyone was into rock. Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton were early influences. I had heard them in concert and also began to become interested in folk music, R&B and the blues. That led me to jazz in high school and lessons with Alan Dean, a guitar teacher and frustrated bebopper who worked at Merritt Music, a local music shop. I took lessons with him starting at age 15. Before that I was a run-of-the-mill rock guitar kid. Alan helped me with jazz and the blues.

JW: And after high school?
JS: I attended Berklee College of Music in Boston starting in 1970. At Berklee I met great players. I wasn’t a wunderkind by any means. Music was a slow, hard road for me from age 16 to 23. When I went to Berklee, it was still the Herb Pomeroy Berklee. Drummer Joe Hunt came up to teach. Vibraphonist Gary Burton and bassists John Neves and Steve Swallow were there, too. Gary was the first great jazz artist I had a chance to play with often, and he was a big help in my development.

read the full article here