Scofield comes to Lawrence

Miller, Owen

On Tuesday, April 26, at 8 p.m. in the Chapel, Lawrence University will welcome to campus one of the “big three” of modern jazz guitar, John Scofield. Scofield’s current trio, backed by drummer Bill Stewart and bassist Steve Swallow, released a live album in 2004, “En Route,” that was met with critical acclaim worldwide. With a mix of original compositions and jazz standards, the entire group, in normal Scofield fashion, is dedicated to the spirit of jazz that has kept the art form visceral and emotional since its conception.
The album, Scofield’s 27th release as a lead musician, is a recording of a live set performed at the Blue Note in NYC. While in the past Scofield’s playing has leaned towards the funk/jazz side of the spectrum, this album is more focused on Scofield’s traditional jazz side. The results are amazing.
Although Scofield is one of the three most recognizable modern jazz guitarists alive today – the others being Pat Metheny and Bill Frisell – the other two members of the trio are legends unto themselves. Bill Stewart, best known for his association with Scofield, has already made an impression on the drumming world. He has appeared in instructional videos, cut a pair of best-selling albums with Maceo Parker, played in Pat Metheny’s trio with Larry Grenadier on bass, and spent five years with Scofield’s band.
Steve Swallow has been all over the jazz/funk/fusion scene since the ’60s, and has long been heralded as the favorite bassist of jazz critics. With a unique approach to the bass, Swallow emphasizes high notes and chordal figures as if he were playing the guitar. Swallow stopped playing acoustic bass in the ’70s in favor of the electric bass, and has not gone back since.
By helping to establish Berklee College of Music in Boston as the “hot spot” for guitar instruction, Scofield has influenced entire generations of guitar players. His sound is instantly recognizable as his own. Throughout his career, he has been known to push the boundaries of what is acceptable in mainstream jazz. Often, Scofield has infused blues and funk roots into his compositions and improvisations.
As Scofield is always backed by equally impressive players, his new trio will not disappoint. With their like-minded conception of groove and harmony, the three players mix well and bring their own personalities to the listening table. By drawing off the energy of a live audience, the trio has the ability to reach emotional heights not easily attained in the studio.
This trio was designed for a live audience, and on April 26, Lawrence University will be able to witness the ensemble in action.