John Scofield

John Scofield

In a lengthy career marked by collaborations with other jazz icons, Scofield’s first solo-guitar album (using only a looper) is no minor departure. He covers a swath of material, combining standards and originals with forays into rock and the roots music long an integral part of his repertoire.

His moving approach to Keith Jarrett’s “Coral” revisits a tune Scofield first recorded in 2000. The original “Honest I Do” features sharp lines atop languid chordal accompaniment, a contrast with his bluesier “Elder Dance.” Hank Williams’ “You Win Again” receives an austere, haunting interpretation. A surreal “Not Fade Away” retains Buddy Holly’s original rhythms as Scofield explores the melody, an approach similar to his spin on the New Orleans R&B standard “Junco Partner.”

The economical, bop-drenched “It Could Happen to You” is a tour-de-force, as Scofield injects two well-executed octave passages, changes key, and adds a brief, unaccompanied interlude. Another standard, “My Old Flame,” while reharmonized in spots, retains the song’s intimacy and eloquence. The reflective “Mrs. Scofield’s Waltz” blends lithe, free-flowing improvisations. Any accomplished guitarist realizes unaccompanied playing offers both freedom and challenges. It’s no surprise Scofield demonstrates that he’s more than up to the task.

This article originally appeared in VG’s August 2022 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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