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Aside from being one of the principal innovators of modern jazz guitar, John Scofield is a creative artist of an even rarer sort: a stylistic chameleon who has forged a consistent, rock-solid aesthetic identity. An artist with fan bases in many camps and nearly three dozen albums to his credit, he has expressed himself in the vernacular of bebop, blues, jazz-funk, organ jazz, acoustic chamber jazz, electronically tinged groove music and orchestral ensembles with ease and enthusiasm. From early on, his versatility and technical mastery won him sideman gigs with Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Gerry Mulligan, Chet Baker and Cobham/Duke among many. Regardless of the stylistic setting, his distinct guitar sound and compositions are unmistakably Scofieldesque, always coupled with an improvisational excellence dedicated to the finest in jazz tradition.
Following celebrated runs on the Enja, Arista, Gramavision, Blue Note and Verve labels, Scofield is proud to release his first project for Emarcy, This Meets That. The album finds Scofield once again in the company of what he calls his "A-Team" - bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Bill Stewart - the trio that released En Route in 2004, Added to that, the four-part horn section of Roger Rosenberg on baritone sax and bass clarinet, Jim Pugh on trombone, Lawrence Feldman on tenor sax and flutes and John Swana on trumpet and flugelhorn. A special treat, one tune also features special guest Bill Frisell on tremolo guitar. The parts, arranged by Scofield himself, give the music a broader harmonic dimension. "When I compose a tune," he explains, "I often hear more parts than I end up playing on the guitar, so on this record I added the horns. We still keep our "trio thing" intact, but the sound is extended and shaded. They embellish what we're doing."
Of course, swing requires finely honed rapport, and that's where Swallow and Stewart come in. Before En Route, this rhythm section appeared on Quiet as well as I Can See Your House From Here, Scofield's 1993 collaboration with Pat Metheny. Swallow produced several early Scofield titles and played in a previous Sco-led trio with drummer Adam Nussbaum - the band that recorded Shinola and Out Like a Light in the early 80's. "Steve has been a huge part of my development since I met him in 1973," John says. "Now we're aged contemporaries, but when it started, he was the established great and I was the kid." As for Stewart: "From the first time I heard him I loved his snap crackle, you know? He usually takes the best solo of the night, in the most musical way. The three of us have an intimacy in our musical exchange that only exists after like-minded individuals play together for decades. It's really special for me."
With This Meets That and his move to Emarcy, Scofield continues his creative and unpredictable journey as a contemporary jazz master. In the true spirit of collaboration, he regularly lends his talents to varied and illustrious projects. Recent examples include the Grammy nominated Saudades with Trio Beyond (Jack DeJohnette, Larry Goldings); Out Louder with Medeski, Martin & Wood. ScoLoHoFo with Joe Lovano, Dave Holland and Al Foster and Live at the Warfield with Phil Lesh and Friends.
Scofield also believes in supporting new talent, as is clear from the presence of fresh faces in his touring bands. "It's the jazz way," Scofield declares. "I started out so inspired by my elders, and I got to play with many of the guys I listened to on records, like Miles, Joe Henderson, Chick and Herbie, like Steve Swallow for that matter. Then you get to pass it on. That's the way life works . . . in music, we really get to share and grow."