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Jazz, Blues and John Scofield, a Synthesized Language

An exploration into John Scofields utilization of blues language within a jazz improvisational context
When I was 14 I was a Blues snob and I listened to BB King; that was it. I liked Howlin' Wolf, BB King, Little Walter, Muddy Waters, Freddy King, Albert King. And then I got into jazz and I've listened to everybody. John Scofield(Brannon)

Gary Watling
Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Music Performance (Honours)

University of Melbourne Faculty of the Victorian College of the Arts and Music

October 2011-11-09

Declaration of Originality
This dissertation contains no material that has been accepted for the award of any other degree or diploma in any other university and to the best of my knowledge, contains no material previously published or written by any other person except where due reference is made in the text.

Acknowledgments I would like to thank Ashley Cross and Elizabeth Mitchell for their time, patience and guidance throughout this year.

Table of contents 1 Introduction 1.1 Aims and 9 1.2 Structure of the 9 1.3 11 2 Chapter 1- Analysis of selected elements of the blues language 2.1 Blues scale and the blue 12 2.2 Expressive 21 Time feel Bending Vibrato Timbre 3 Chapter 2- An analysis of John Scofields improvisatory style 3.1 30 3.2 General 31 3.3 37 3.4 Analysis of All the Things You 38 General Bending and blue notes Timbre Analysis of 42 General Bending and blue notes Timbre 45 Appendix 47 Transcription of All the Things You Are 4 Appendix 52 5 Transcription of Wee

List of Figures Figure 1: Blues Scale Figure 1.1: excerpt taken from Muddy waters recording of I Cant Be Satisfied Figure 1.2a: excerpt taken from Howling Wolfs recording of Going Down Slow Figure 1.2b: excerpt taken from Howling Wolfs recording of Going Down Slow Figure 1.3: excerpt taken from B.B Kings recording of You Upsets Me Baby Figure 1.4: excerpt taken from Little Walters recording of Rocker Figure 2: excerpt taken from B.B Kings recording of Paying The Cost To Be The Boss Figure 2.1: excerpt taken from B.B Kings recording of Crying Wont Help You Figure 3: excerpt taken from Muddy Waters recording of Louisiana Blues Figure 3.1: excerpt taken from B.B Kings recording of The Thrill is Gone Figure 4: excerpt taken from John Scofields recording of Not You Again Figure 4.1: excerpt taken from John Scofields recording of Not You Again FIGURE 4.2: excerpt taken from John Scofields recording of Flat Out Figure 4.3: excerpt taken from John Scofields recording of All The Things You Are Figure 4.4: excerpt taken from John Scofields recording of Flat Out

Audio Tracks (accompanying Compact Disc) Track 1: Fig 1.1 Track 2: Fig 1.2a Track 3: Fig 1.2b Track 4: Fig 1.3 Track 5: Fig 1.4 Track 6: Fig 2 Track 7: Fig 2.1 Track 8: Fig 3 Track 9: Fig 3.1 Track 10: Howling Wolf, Smoke Stack Lightning released March 1956, Chess label Track 11: Muddy Waters Mannish Boy released June 1955, Chess label Track 12: Little Walter Rocker released 1965, Chess label Track 13: B.B king Sweet Sixteen released 1960, Kent label Track 14: Fig 4 Track 15: Fig 4.1 Track 16: Fig 4.2 Track 17: Roberto Gatto, There Will Never Be Another You, released 1987, Gramavision label Track 18: Fig 4.3 Track 19: Fig 4.4 Track 20: John Scofield, All The Things You Are, released 1989, Gramavision Label Track 21: John Scofield, Wee, released 2004, Verve label


I am totally in debt to the blues. I think blues is really powerful music, the good blues...I think I was one of the first to seriously try to incorporate that element, the phrasing of blues and rock, with the be-bop chords and changes. For me its really hard to separate between jazz or fusion, rhythm & blues, blues, or rock music. In a way, I think all those elements are in my music... John Scofield (Weisethuanet) John Scofield (1951) is considered to be one of the most influential jazz guitarists of the modern era and has collaborated with some of the most influential names in jazz including Miles Davis, Dave Liebman, Joe Henderson, Charles Mingus and Herbie Hancock. Though Scofield is a masterful jazz improviser, the blues plays a prominent role in his improvisational style, echoing influences of such artists as B.B King, Albert King, Muddy Waters, Jimi Hendrix and a plethora of other blues artists. He has managed to fuse the constructive elements, distinctive techniques, and idiosyncratic traits of the blues with the harmonic sophistication of jazz, creating one of the most unique and recognisable guitar styles in jazz, while broadening the tonal palette of the instrument. Whilst jazz guitarists and jazz musicians generally have always sourced inspiration from the blues, it is the opinion of the author that John Scofields embedded blues language manifests from different influences than his jazz predecessors. Although other jazz guitarists such as Wes Montgomery and Jim Hall reflected elements of the blues in their playing, it was derived from far more mellow influences stemming back to what Frank Tirro terms as classic blues (Tirro, 1993) represented by artists such as Bessie Smith and Louie Armstrong. Classic blues artists brought a degree of professionalism, of polished and consistent artistry to the blues genre and were a major influence on the development of jazz. Scofield however, grew up during the 1960s and was exposed to the music of Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. These bluesmen fall under the category put forward by Tirro as Country(Tirro, 1993) and Urban(Tirro, 1993) blues, which traditionally have been perceived as being apart the jazz idiom. Creatively embracing these influences within a straight ahead jazz context is one of the features that make Scofields voice on the instrument unique.

The purpose of this dissertation is to establish to what extent John Schofield utilizes blues language in a straight ahead jazz improvisational context. Although much can be said about John Scofields compositional output which also features blues elements, the main area of focus for this dissertation will be his improvisational style. More specifically, it aims to answer the following principal questions: 1) What is the Blues Language? 2) Which distinctive elements of the blues idiom permeate Scofields style? 3) How are these elements used in his improvisational process?

The author believes that an in-depth examination of John Scofields style is a pertinent area of study for three main reasons. Firstly, John Scofield, along with Bill Frisell and Pat Metheny have had a significant impact on guitarists of their epoch and on those who have followed, contributing greatly to the popularization of the instrument in the jazz idiom. Yet despite Scofields significant contribution to the music, there is a noticeable lack of any academic research into his improvisational style. Secondly, Scofield has developed his own sound which conforms to, and reaffirms the fundamental aesthetic principles of the jazz idiom(De Stefano, 1996). The investigation of this individualism is central to jazz and can be demonstrated by the abundance of doctoral dissertations which investigate the improvisational styles of leading jazz musicians: Art Tatum (Howards 1978), Charlie Parker (Owens 1974), Sonny Rollins (Blanq 1977), John Coltrane (Porter 1983), and Lester Young (Gushee 1977). Finally, the blues is often seen in jazz circles as merely a predecessor to jazz(Paul oliver) and is rarely considered as a topic for serious research. In focusing on the blues aspect contained within John Scofields style, the author attempts to illuminate not only what makes John Scofield an extraordinary individualistic artist but also affirm the blues as a complex and valid art form that demands significant investigation. This thesis is divided into two principal sections each comprising several sub headings. The first section will be an analysis of the blues from an historic and stylistic standpoint and give detailed explanations of blues tone colour, articulations, harmonic language, rhythm, melody and phrasing. This undertaking will include audio clips and transcriptions of specific musical examples from various blues artists.

Section two delves into how John Scofield utilises blues language while improvising within a straight ahead jazz structure. This will be achieved through the analysis of specific transcriptions. The solos that will form the impetus for this investigation will be from John Scofields recording of All the Things You Are(Hammerstein, 1939) and Wee(Best, 1949). These tunes are comprised of chord changes that are common to the musical repertoires of jazz musicians and are widely known and performed.


Methodology In order to establish well-defined and accurate representations of the blues language and its use within Scofields improvisational style, the author engaged a variety of resources including: a number of masters and doctoral level dissertations on significant jazz artists, interviews with John Scofield as well as significant blues figures and journal articles. This subsequently led to a deeper understanding of John Scofields utilisation of blues elements in his improvisations. This dissertation employs style analysis as the primary method of inquiry and investigates all aspects and traits of the musical spectrum including tone, rhythm, placement, feel and dynamics as well as melodic and harmonic considerations. The authors aim was to form a rational and methodical approach for the examination of the blues language and the improvisational style of John Scofield, via practices derived from musicology and jazz scholarship along with jazz performance and practice. Throughout this procedure the author has incorporated well-known guidelines for style analysis that have been articulated by music scholars such as Jan La Rue, Lawrence Gushee and Charles Keil.

An important part of the style analysis process is transcription. The majority of the musical examples were transcribed note for note from the respective recordings, and the author made all attempts to maintain a high level of accuracy both in expressive detail and consistent notational practices. However, the transcription of John Scofields solo on Wee (Best, 1949) was transcribed by Bruce Saunders, a professor of music at Berklee College of Music, and was acquired from his website Many of the musical examples have been transcribed in their entirety, while others only contain a select number of choruses or relevant measures. While transcribing the excerpts and solos used for this dissertation the author utilised a program called Amazing Slow Downer, which allowed the recordings of each excerpt to be slowed to a tempo where the highest accuracy could be achieved, providing greater clarity while examining nuance. In some instances, certain musical examples were analysed aurally due to visual transcription being deemed unnecessary. In these cases the reader will be directed to specific audio examples that accompany this dissertation.


The Blues Language A style analysis of selected elements of the blues

The blues is a personal state made in musical terms which is nevertheless valid for all members of society. (Tirro, 1993) The blues is an African American music that transverses a wide range of emotion and musical styles and can differ in mood, theme, approach, and style of delivery. The aim of this chapter is to discuss in detail specific elements of the blues language including blues scale usage, the blue note, expressive techniques and articulations, dynamics, timbre, texture and common phrases. It will be shown that Scofields use of these elements definitively echoes the blues styles of early delta, electric blues and R&B artists, a characteristic not common to his jazz guitar predecessors.

Blues Scale and the Blue Note An important characteristic of the blues language is the blues scale or mode, which informs the mood of the blues genre. The scale includes three intervals that are varied in pitch: the third, fifth and seventh. Each of these three scale degrees seem to be neutral, meaning neither major of minor and are almost impossible to show accurately using Western musical notation. These notes could best be described as Pitch Complexes1(Titon) or tonal areas, demonstrating discrepancies in pitch that stray from the norm in regards to the Western notational system, which strongly believes in the sanctity of intonation.

Pitch complexes refer to the microtonal increments of pitch that surround any given note.


Figure 1

It is necessary that the blues scale be perceived not as simply an alteration of the Western Systemnot a major scale with a few notes changed, but rather as a very different configuration of pitches(Ripani).

It would be naive to state that in a blues performance, the blues scale presented in figure 1 would exist in isolation. It is best to view this scale as a model that delineates the basic pitches of a highly intricate blues mode. When attempting to grasp an understanding of how the blues scale is used it is useful to examine how the particular scale degrees function in a musical context. However, it would be impossible to encapsulate the entire scope of the blues language through the analysis of any one blues performance. Therefore the following collection of musical examples presents a cross section of the blues language, with a view to highlighting the nuance of the music in as much detail as possible given the constraints of this dissertation. Furthermore, it is beyond the scope of this thesis to accurately measure the variations in pitch that are presented in these musical examples as well as it being deemed unnecessary. The transcriptions do not and cannot accurately express the sonic nature of the performances, which is one of the frustrations when attempting to show these blues language using traditional Western musical notation. The point here is to grasp the notion that the pitches which lay between the notes in the Western Tempered system are included in the range of notes available to a blues performer.


These pitch discrepancies are often referred to as blue notes and are central to the blues language. The concept of the blue note is among the most frequently repeated formulae used when describing the harmonic foundation of American music, in particular the styles of blues, gospel, R&B and jazz. For the most part the academic fraternity has held the view that the blue note is an alteration of the western major scale, with the third, fifth and seventh scale degree flattened.

A frequently mentioned characterisation of U.S Negro songs is the so called blue note, the flattened or slightly lowered third and seventh degrees in a major scale.(Tirro, 1993)

In fact the blue note is not really a note at all in the ordinary, sense of the word. That is, it does not have fixed pitch relationships to its neighbours, but is rather a movement or a melodic tendency. These micro-tones are often seen as impure by Western musicologists, but its the constant interplay between these pitches and the Tempered Western Tonal system that create the essence of the blues sound. The harmonic foundation of blues, rock and some jazz styles in emic terms and performance practice, in fact represent both a totally different conception of harmony to that of western functional harmony and also represents a different comprehension of dissonance/consonance in music(Weisethuanet). In other words these so called blue notes would not necessarily be considered to be flattened by an individual performer but simply the right note for that particular situation. A significant argument for these blue notes or micro-tones being part of a distinct harmonic system, rather than random pitches come from Jeff Titon. The most important argument that these quarter-tones form distinct pitches in a down home blues mode is that singers enter and move within the complexes in a manner reasonably consistent from phrases to phrase, line to line, and stanza to stanza throughout a given song(Titon) What can be taken from this statement by Titon is that there is a high level of consistency to how these pitches are used by blues musicians in performance practice.


Figure 1.1 is taken from Muddy Waters tune I cant be satisfied (Morganfield, 1948) and is a prime example of the blues language. Muddy Waters, who was both a singer and guitarist, was an innovator of the blues genre and is a master of evoking the sound and essence of the blues. He primarily used a slide2 or a bottleneck in his left hand in order to obtain the graduations in pitch he required, which is a common tool for the early blues guitarist (this will be discussed in greater detail in the expressive techniques chapter). In bars 1, 3 and 5 Waters slides up to the fifth (D) and the third (B) of the tonic chord (G). The third in particular seems to be sitting somewhere between B flat and B natural, a clear demonstration of the notion of pitch complexes or tonal areas within one note. Bar 4 shows another often heard blues device, the double stop. In this example the third of the tonic chord (B) is sounded simultaneously with the tonic note (G). As in bars 1, 3 and 5 the third seems to sit somewhere between B flat and B natural. The resulting sound of the two notes combined is an excellent example of blues dissonance. Bar 7 illustrates how blues musicians manipulate the 7th of a chord as well as exemplifying the vocal like qualities that can be achieved on the guitar. Waters slides up to the tonic note (G) from the flat 7 (F natural) and returns to a pitch that sits between the flat 7th and the natural 7th. This varied 7th degree is neutral in its function and once again demonstrates the micro tonalities available in the blues language. In bar 9 the note (G) changes from the tonic to the 5th of the sub dominant chord C dominant 7. Waters alternates between the flat 5th and the natural 5th, taking full advantage of the available variations in pitches along the way.

A slide is a glass or metal piece of tubbing that is placed over the finger of a guitarist. Instead of altering the pitch of the strings in the normal manner (by pressing the string against frets), a slide is placed upon the string to vary its vibrating length, and pitch. This slide can then be moved along the string without lifting, creating continuous transitions in pitch.


Figure 1.1 (Track 1)

Figure 1.2a is another example of quintessential blues guitar playing by Hubert Sumlin and is taken from Howling Wolfs recording of Going Down Slow (Oden, 1942). Bar 1 begins with an example of how blues musicians use the small pitch increments between notes to create melodic interest. Employing a string bend (see expressive techniques and articulation chapter) Sumlin moves from the flat 5th to the sharp 5th before returning to the natural 5th creating a very distinct lyrical melody utilising microtones. This concept is illustrated once again in bar 3 over the D7 chord. In this example the root note (D) is approached from the flat 7th (C) via a full tone string bend. Once Sumlin reaches the root note (D) he releases the bend to a pitch that lays somewhere between the natural 7th and the flat 7th, then returns to the root note (D).


Figure 1.2a (Track 2)

Figure 1.2b is taken from the same recording and further demonstrates how Hubert Sumlin exploits pitch complexes to great effect. Here Sumlin rapidly alternates between the 5th and the flat 5th to create a flurry effect. This lick3 is repeated again later in the solo with almost identical intonation, thus giving weight to the notion that the manipulation of pitch variation has clear intention and is not random.

In genres such as blues, jazz, rock and country the term lick refers to a stock pattern or phrase.


Figure 1.2b (Track 3)

This example, figure 1.3, is a transcription of B.B Kings solo introduction to You Upsets Me Baby (King, 1954). The first four bars are played over a G dominant chord. A dominant chord contains a natural 3rd scale degree (B), and King repeatedly plays the flattened 3rd (B flat) over this tonality. In bar 6 the flattened 3rd is once again sounded over the (G) dominant chord; however this time the (B) flat note is bent upwards to a pitch that is slightly below the natural 3rd (B). Another interesting feature of this example is Kings treatment of the 5th degree of the G dominant 7th chord. King bends from the 4th (C) up to a pitch that is slightly lower that the 5th (D) then sounds a (D) note on the adjacent string. Given B.B Kings renowned facility to control bends it is the authors opinion that the slightly lowered 5ths are not mistakes or out of tune notes, but rather constitute the implementation of a harmonic concept that embraces microtones. This can be further illustrated in


bar 8 where over a C 7th chord, King executes a bend to a note that lays somewhere between the 4th (F) and the flattened 5th (G flat) before continuing up the flat 5th, then sounding the natural 5th (G) on the adjacent string.

Figure 1.3 (Track 4)


Example 1.4 is a transcribed extract from a solo on the song Rocker(Jacobs, 1965) by blues harmonica player Little Walter. Walter pedals4 the 5th of an E dominant 7th chord (B) while alternating between the flattened 3rd (G) and the natural 3rd (G sharp), exploring the micro-tonal possibilities that the language allows. Over the sub- dominant chord (A7) the (B) pedal is lowered to (B flat) creating a flat 9th tonality, while the (G sharp) is lowered to (G), which is the flat 7th of the A 7th. The flat 9th (B flat) is gradually bent up towards (B) natural, becoming the 5th of the (E) 7th chord. The flattened 9th tonality throughout this extract may also be perceived as the flat 5th of the tonic chord.

Figure 1.4 (Track 5)

The term pedal refers to a single note held or repeated,while music continues


Expressive Techniques and Timbre In this section the techniques and articulations used to create the nuance and inflection required to navigate through the various pitch complexes available to blues musicians are discussed, along with the timbrel variations blues musicians draw upon. Instrumentalists employed techniques such as string bends5 and vibrato6 to emulate the blue notes heard in the African vocal style of the field holler. Blues instrumentalists also emulate other vocal characteristics found in blues and gospel music such as melismas and falsetto7 by harnessing elements such as feedback, distortion and slurs. Blues musicians also experiment with sound quality or timbre, using growls, screams and wailing to convey pain, joy or anger. These elements of the blues language create the impression that the thoughts, feelings, and expressions of the moment were quite important, turning attention away from the song as product of a deliberate and often arduous process of composition, towards the performance itself and the personality and uniqueness of the performer (Evans). This is particularly important as it recognises the improvisational aspect of the blues, forming a clear link with jazz. Some of the techniques listed above have been mentioned earlier in connection with other elements of the blues; however, this section will explore these expressive techniques, articulations and timbrel variations in greater detail. This discussion will not focus on the actual physical movements required to create these techniques, but rather their application in the music. For example, when talking about how a harmonica player such as Little Walter bends tones, the focal point will be the harmonic, tonal or textural applications, not the tonguing technique used to create the bend. Throughout this discussion musical examples will be given to illustrate the various

String bend refers to the act of a musician pulling a string, either upwards or downwards in order to alter the pitch of a note. 6 Vibrato produced on a string instrument by cyclic hand movements. 7 Falsetto is a method of voice production used by male singers in order to sing notes higher than their normal range


techniques and how they are utilised in performance practice. Due to written notation being largely ineffective in accurately depicting such things as micro tonality, emotional measurement, expressive techniques and sound quality, the following examples can be found on the accompanying audio compact disc with time indicators representing the particular phrases or passages being discussed. This section is by no means a definitive catalogue of expressive techniques and timbrel variations found in the blues language as it is beyond the scope and focus of this dissertation to attempt to list and define them all. Therefore the sample of techniques and timbrel effects discussed is quite narrow while the definitions and uses are general and broad.

Time Feel/ Rhythm As with all African American music, the Blues is built upon a sophisticated rhythmic language. As blues musicians possess a comprehensive rhythmic vocabulary, there is an almost infinite amount of rhythmic sub divisions that could be illustrated by various musical examples. Attempting to list all of these rhythmic sub divisions is not only a monumental task, it has been deemed unnecessary in this context; nonetheless, the notion of swing or groove is a defining feature of the blues that warrants discussion. The concept of swing is complex, and is made even more difficult due to Western musical notation being largely ineffective in accurately depicting swing. Ripani describes swing as something that often exists between the beats on the printed page, and constantly changes, measure to measure, and beat to beat. In his study of swing, Charles Keil puts forward The power of music is in its participatory discrepancies, and these are basically of two kinds: processual (time feel) and textural (timbre). Music, to be personally involving and socially valuable, must be out of time or out of tune.(Keil) What is meant by Keil here is that swing is derived from the constant interplay of idiosyncratic time discrepancies such as hesitation, anticipation or relaxed dynamics against a strong rhythmic pulse. The overall effect is a musical phrase that floats over the underlying beat, and it imparts ambiguity to the rhythmic structure(Ripani).This ambiguity creates swing due to its intentional at-oddness with the basic rhythmic pulse. The way a blues musician manipulates these discrepancies in time is a significant factor in establishing individual identity on an instrument. Another concept that is tied into the notion of swing is syncopation or off beat phrasing. Off beat


phrasing is an essential ingredient of the blues rhythmic language, as it is with all African American derived music. However, it has commonly been stated that the syncopation found in American music has its roots in Africa and that Western art music has had no significant impact on this particular element of the blues. Ripani asks the question: what are the specific differences in the use of offbeat phrasing in the blues system from that of syncopation in the European system? He concludes that the fundamental difference between the two, is that off beat phrasing occurs as a regular and essential element of the blues, however, a composer of European music typically incorporates off beat phrasing in an effort to introduce something out of the ordinary. (Ripani)

Bending Bending tones on instruments to create tension and release or to imply a blues tonality can be traced back to the turn of the century and the early development of the blues. There are many ways that a blues instrumentalist can bend notes in order to evoke the musical expression that is an essentially a vocally derived element of the blues language. During a blues performance any note may be bent up or down depending on the desired harmonic tension in a particular expressive situation. The specific techniques used to create these bends differ from instrument to instrument but their application remains the same. Bends are not only used to produce the microtonal graduations in pitch that are a part of the harmonic template used in the blues system, but are a key ingredient in personifying a blues performance. To categorize all the different types of bends such as whole bends and pre bends would be quite a sizeable task, as such; only the bends relevant to the particular music examples will be discussed. It is important to keep in mind that when dealing with microtonal playing there are a multitude of pitches that a particular note or notes could be bent up to or away from, therefore such terms as full tone bends and half tones bends do little to convey the rich diversity of bending in real life performance situations.

Figure 2 is the introductory guitar solo from B.B Kings Paying the Cost to Be the Boss(King, 1968) which is a classic example of how bending is employed within a blues performance. The bends utilised within this track arent just thrown in for good measure or as an effect, rather they


are interwoven into the fabric of B.B Kings style. During the first four bars King employs an array of typical blues bends. In bar 1 King bends the 9th(C#) of the B7 chord up a whole tone to the 3rd (D#) then performs a bend and release which involves bending the 9th (C#) up to (D#) then releasing the bent note back down to the original (C#) note, highlighting the micro tones along the way which results in a glissando like effect. Bars 3 and 4 sees King bend the flattened 3rd (D) up to a note that is situated somewhere between (D) and the natural 3rd (D#), creating a blue note. This is an example of bending being used to create the interplay between major and minor which is an essential part of blues language. These micro tonal inflections also help to produce a vocal like quality to B.B Kings playing and serve as a vehicle to enable King to personify the notes he plays. Bars 3 and 4 serve as a detailed illustration of the level of nuance and expression great blues musician can generate from their instruments. King bends the flattened third of the B7 chord (D) up to a tone just below the natural 3rd (D#) then in the same movement bends the 4th (E) up to a note close to (F) which is the flattened 5th. This is followed by a (D) note bent up to a pitch between (D) and (D#) immediately follows and the phrase is ended with a fretted tonic note (B). When trying to describe these bending examples, words and notation always fall short of the mark and seem cumbersome as these devices need to be heard to fully understand their impact. It is worth mentioning that as with many blues guitarists, B.B King is also a recognised singer and his guitar playing could be said to be emulating his voice.

Figure 2 (Track 6)

Paying the Cost to Be the Boss


Figure 2.1 is taken from B.B Kings Crying Wont Help You(King, 1967a) and is a common blues phrase which is frequently heard amongst blues performers. King bends the 4th of C7, (F) note up to the 5th (G), finishing with a pentatonic derived melody.

Figure 2.1(Track 7)


To me its like the human voice. Its like a person singing. It seems to say more and you can feel it. It makes the sound sort of stimulating. I think in terms of not just playing a note but making sure that every note I play means something. You need to take time with these notes. If you just play notes and not put anything into it, youll never have a distinctive style. You need to put yourself into what you are doing. It will set you from the person just playing the guitar. In other words, make music B.B King (Weisethuanet)



The faster I shake my hand the better it sounds to me. I want it to sound like the vibrato in a humans voice.(B.B King)

A musicians vibrato is analogous to a finger print, meaning that no two are exactly the same, making vibrato an extremely powerful and passionate expressive device. A listener can distinguish one performer from another purely by their vibrato alone. Vibrato is an essential part of a blues performance. It has the power to make an instrument speak or sing and can transform a solo from an organized collection of notes into a dramatic unfolding, an emotional entity, a story with a beginning, middle and an end. There are a multitude of approaches used to create vibrato and each is instrument specific, however, like bending, the application remains the same which is to allow the artist to communicate how they are feeling at a particular point in time. As with many other expressive devices employed by blues musicians, vibrato is intended to mimic the human voice, and like the human voice vibrato comes in a variety of shades and inflection. However, generally speaking, most blues musicians employ a wider, faster vibrato.

Figure 3 is an excerpt from the introductory guitar solo from Muddy Waters Louisiana Blues(Morganfield, 1950) and is an example of a wide, fast vibrato. In this example Muddy achieves his particular vibrato with the use of a slide.

Figure 3 (Track 8)


Figure 3.1 is an example of a fast vibrato being achieved without a slide. It comes from an excerpt taken from B.B Kings The Thrill is Gone(Darnell, 1951). Like Muddy Waters, B.B Kings vibrato is very rapid evoking a vocal like quality.

Figure 3.1 (Track 9)



Timbre Timbre8 plays an important role within the blues language and is perhaps one of the most defining elements of the blues. Blues vocalists employ an array of tonal effects with their voices such as growls, screeches, grunts, nasal moans and falsettos to colour their voice in order to evoke emotion and drama. Similarly, instrumentalists distort and manipulate timbre to mimic the expressive range of their singing counterparts. It is also important to stress once again that many blues instrumentalist are also singers, which has seen blues artist appropriate the speech like nature of their singing to their instruments. The techniques and tools used by instrumentalists to create these timbrel variations are numerous and differ depending on the instruments capabilities. However amplification has played a significant role in allowing the blues language to evolve to what it is today. Blues musicians embraced amplification due to its ability to facilitate tonal diversity as well as volume, which can be illustrated by the playing of blues harmonica player Little Walter. Little Walter revolutionised the sound of the harmonica when he developed the technique of cupping a microphone attached to an amplifier in his hand while he played. The result was an extremely powerful tone that possessed a certain rawness to it, similar to a preacher shouting to his congregation. Indeed most blues musicians seem to possess a rawness or vocal-like quality to their sound. Another prime example of this can be heard in the dirty or gravelly guitar tones exhibited by a plethora of notable blues guitarist such as B.B King, Albert King, Freddie King, Albert Collins and Taj Mahal. These guitarists employ effects such as distortion, wah-wah, tremolo and reverb (all of which are electronic devices that manipulate or colour timbre) in order to vary their sound. Overall a blues musician realizes that such timbre, along with other stylistic traits, helps to communicate with his audience in an essential way, and learning to effectively use these features is important to mastering the style.(Ripani) The following audio examples can be found on the accompanying compact disc and are from various significant blues artists. These examples attempt to illustrate the role that timbre and its manipulation play in a blues performance.

Timbre is what makes a particular musical sound different from another, even when they have the same pitch and dynamic.


Track 10- Howling Wolf, Smoke Stack Lightning released March 1956, Chess label Track 11- Muddy Waters Mannish Boy released June 1955, Chess label Track 12- Little Walter Rocker released 1965, Chess label Track 13- B.B king Sweet Sixteen released 1960, Kent label


Chapter 2: An Analysis of the Blues Elements in John Scofields Improvisatory Style Background Born in Ohio and raised in suburban Connecticut, Scofield took up the guitar at age 11. Inspired by both rock and blues players he later attended Berklee College of Music in Boston. After a debut recording with Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker, Scofield became a member of the Billy CobhamGeorge Duke Band for two years. In 1977 he recorded with Charles Mingus, and joined the Gary Burton Quartet. He began his international career as a bandleader and recording artist in 1978. Between the periods of 1982 to 1985, Scofield toured and recorded with Miles Davis. His tenure with Miles Davis placed him firmly in the foreground of the jazz world as a player and composer. Since that time he has prominently led his own groups in the international Jazz scene, recording over 30 albums as a leader including collaborations with contemporary artist such as Pat Metheny, Charlie Haden, Eddie Harris, Medeski, Martin & Wood, Bill Frisell, Brad Mehldau, Mavis Staples, Government Mule, Jack DeJohnette, Joe Lovano and Phil Lesh. Throughout his career Scofield has punctuated his traditional jazz offerings with blues-funk oriented electric music.

I got into B.B. King and blues, and that whole blues guitar thing, when I was 14, 15. Got real into it, became a blues purist, and then I got into jazz shortly thereafter. John Scofield(Interviews)


Scofields improvisatory style: General Observations Scofields improvisatory style synthesises the harmonic complexity of be- bop and modern jazz language with the timbrel and microtonal nuance of country and urban blues. Scofield tends to play with a lightly distorted sound, a trait commonly found amongst blues musicians rather than jazz guitarists. His harmonic approach is based on the advanced pentatonic and chordal substitutions made famous by modern jazz players like John Coltrane and others as well as the straight ahead be-bop phrases of Charlie Parker. Integrated within this jazz syntax is a deep understanding and appreciation of the blues traditions of artists such as Muddy Waters and B.B King. He utilises bends and a bluesesque vibrato within a jazz improvisational context which is not common amongst traditional jazz guitar players. The use of these expressive techniques doesnt come across as contrived or used merely for effect; rather Scofield seems to be aware of how each and every note/bend fits with the horizontal/vertical structures of chord progressions essential to jazz (Weisethuanet). The idea of timbrel individuality, which so forcefully permeates the jazz idiom, is nowhere more implicit than in John Scofields style. Through the adoption of the blues language Scofield has developed one of the most unique instrumental timbres in the history of jazz guitar. His manipulation of elements such as dynamics and sonoric intensity is a major characterizing aspect of his sound. The timbrel characteristics and dynamic manoeuvrability associated with Scofields sound do not derive solely from either jazz or blues respectively. Rather, it is the outcome of a salient fusion of stylistic concepts from both genres that has allowed Scofield to attain his individual sound. Scofields distinctive style is also largely due to his acute sense of time and awareness of groove. This emphasis on rhythm is one of the most fundamental approaches to jazz improvisation, and is normally referred to as time feel.(De Stefano, 1996) Scofields plays in a manner that continually emphasises or understates the underlying metric pulse within an improvisation, constantly pushing and pulling against the figures played by other band members.


Figure 4 is an example of Scofield utilising blues-esque bends with jazz phrasing and is taken from an improvisation on his own composition Not You Again. (Scofield, 2001) This particular tune has been composed using the chord changes of the well known jazz standard There Will Never Be Another You. (Warren, 1942) Bars 1 and 3 contain typical jazz phrasing, which makes use of chord tones interspersed with chromatic passing tones. However, during bar 2 Scofield bends the (C) note up to a note close to (D) flat. This is an example of how Scofield incorporates intonation as an expressive device throughout his jazz phrasing and echoes his country and urban blues influences.

Figure 4 (Track 14)

Bbm7 Eb 7 Ab maj 7

Scofields utilisation of string bends can be further illustrated in Figure 4.1. During bar 2 Scofield bends the (G) flat note up to a (G) note. It is important to point out that Scofield uses space, immediately preceding and following the bent note, which allows for greater impact and draws the listeners attention. Throughout Not You Again, (Scofield, 2001) Scofields tone is quite distorted and strays from the traditional jazz guitar sound. He also varies his articulation by picking or striking the string in different areas of the guitar and utilising techniques such as slurs, hammer-ons and pull offs, in order to alter timbre within his improvisation.


Figure 4.1 (Track 15)

Figure 4.2 is an excerpt from Scofields solo on the tune Flat Out(Scofield, 1989) and is another example of how Scofield utilises blues expressive techniques, in particular string bends, over jazz harmony. Throughout this passage Scofield repeats a motif over the entire progression. This motif is very common amongst blues players and is reminiscent of B.B Kings playing, illustrated in Figure 2.1. Scofield moves the motif up in minor thirds which suggest a (B) flat diminished sound. Scofield employs string bends to produce certain notes throughout this passage, the resulting sound is very bluesy, yet still retains the sophistication of jazz.

Figure 4.2 (Track 16)

Track 17 is an audio example and is taken from There Will Never Be Another You (Warren, 1942) found on Roberto Gattos album Ask (Gatto, 1987) which features John Scofield, and can be found on the accompanying compact disc. This particular performance demonstrates Scofields highly developed awareness of and ability to control and manipulate timbre and dynamics. Although this performance is somewhat unusual in a jazz context, due to the instrumentation being guitar and drums only, the improvisation by Scofield is executed within the harmonic and formal structures of this well


known jazz standard There Will Never Be Another You. (Warren, 1942) Scofield produces an effect similar to the falsetto heard in the singing styles of blues and gospel singers such as can be identified in the aforementioned B.B. King track Sweet Sixteen. (King, 1967b) (Track 4).

Figure 4.3 is Scofields interpretation of the melody of All the Things You Are(Hammerstein, 1939) taken from his album Flat Out.(Scofield, 1989) This example demonstrates Scofields manipulation of timbre in order to create contrast and engage the listener. Bar 1 one is played with a soft dynamic and a consistent timbrel approach. However, during bar 2 Scofield manipulates the timbre of the note (F) by employing an aggressive attack on the string as well as employing a string bend. The (F) note is bent up to a note that lies below (G) flat, resulting in a blue note. This blue note seems to function more as a device to manipulate timbre, rather than a deliberate harmonic choice. Dynamically, the (F) note is louder in its delivery, which allows for a greater contrast in timbre. The overall effect is of screaming or squealing bearing a human-like quality. The use of timbrel manipulation and colouration to obtain vocal or human like qualities through the use of techniques such as string bends is an element essential to the blues language. This particular example is reminiscent of the slide playing of Muddy Waters or the vocal cries of Howling Wolf.

Figure 4.3 (Track 18)


B Dim 7


Figure 4.4 is another example taken from the tune Flat Out (Scofield, 1989) and demonstrates how Scofield integrates these manipulations in timbre into his jazz language. During Bar 1 Scofield employs an effect similar to that of a slide guitar player, via the use of a volume pedal (a foot operated device that allows a musician to control the dynamic output of their instrument). The (G) flat note is bent up to a note that lies just below a (G) natural, however Scofield uses the volume pedal to render the initial attack of the note inaudible, which is comparable to what can be achieved with the use of a slide. Scofield gradually increases the dynamic of the bent note, which creates a moaning or crying effect that can be observed in the vocal and playing styles of a plethora of blues artists. The use of electronic devices was not heard in straight ahead jazz guitar prior to the emergence of artist such as John Scofield, Bill Frisell and Pat Metheny, however, such devices were prevalent in the blues and rock genres. Bars 3 to 12 exhibit melodic and harmonic language and phrasing commonly found in the jazz tradition, however, bars 13 and 14 reveal the influence of Muddy Waters and other blues slide guitar players. The repeated (E) notes during bars 13 and 14 are played with a wide and fast vibrato and varied articulation, which manipulates the timbre of the notes. This is draws comparison to figure 3, which is Muddy Waters introductory phrase on Louisiana Blues (Morganfield, 1950).


Figure 4.4 (Track 19)


Analysis of selected John Scofield Improvisations The Analysis There are two analyses of John Scofields improvisations presented within this chapter. Both are complete in the sense that they go beyond simply looking at the blues elements contained within them. It is important that the blues elements evident in Scofields playing are observed in context with his general improvisatory style. Furthermore, when analysing the blues elements within these improvisations, it is necessary to analyse each particular example within the context of an entire phrase. This will highlight to what degree Scofield draws upon his blues influences within a jazz improvisation. The first analysis within this chapter is of Scofield improvisation on All the Things You Are (Hammerstein, 1939), taken from his 1989 studio release Flat Out. (Scofield, 1989) This contrasts with the second analysis, his solo on Wee, (Best, 1949) taken from the EnRoute (Scofield, 2004) album, which a recording of a live club date in 2004. The purpose of these analyses is to investigate how Scofield superimposes blues language over the harmonically complex chord progressions commonly found in jazz standards. The analysis will be focused on how the blues elements are seamlessly interwoven into the jazz language inherent within these improvisations. Due to the constraints of this dissertation the focus of the analysis is restricted to blue notes, bending and timbre, which constitute the blues elements that have permeated Scofield style to the greatest extent. In the analyses of John Scofields guitar sound during his performance of All the Things You Are (Hammerstein, 1939) and Wee (Best, 1949) certain applicable guidelines proposed by Jan LaRue were integrated. According to LaRue, the style analysis of sound includes observations falling naturally into two categories: timbre and dynamics. The definitions have been slightly modified, making them more relevant to the particular musical context, that is; the discussion of John Scofields improvisatory style. The style-analytical category of sound comprises, 1) Timbre: the instrumental colour and tone-quality produced by the improviser; 2) Dynamics: the intensity of sound or fluctuation of intensity generated in a solo, and manipulated through different techniques and procedures.


Analysis of Scofields solo on All the Things You Are

General This rendition of Kern & Hammersteins "All the Things the Things You Are(Hammerstein, 1939) appears on John Scofields 1989 release, Flat Out.(Scofield, 1989) It is interesting to hear how Scofield approaches this particular jazz standard. The tune consists of a 36 bar form and Scofields improvisation spans a total of 6 choruses. Scofield chose the trio format with the instrumentation consisting of electric guitar, electric bass and drums. The musical interaction between the members of the group and their choice of harmonic and rhythmic language is steeped in the jazz tradition; however, the use of a solid body bass gives the track a modern quality. The production on this album is quite slick which differs from traditional production methods for jazz recording.

Bending and Blue Notes Scofield is essentially a jazz musician; as such his harmonic language is derived primarily from the jazz idiom. What Scofield has managed to achieve is to successfully fuse the distinctive elements of country and urban blues music with his broad knowledge of jazz harmony. A prominent feature apparent in Scofields improvisational approach is the use of blue notes. He achieves these blue notes in the same manner as a blues musician, by employing techniques such as bends to emulate the human voice. These blue notes are a key characteristic of blues harmony, however, what makes Scofields approach unique is that he uses these elements over sophisticated jazz harmonic progressions. Traditional blues melodies are primarily played over dominant 7th chords which form the essence of the blues sound. Scofield however employs these micro tonal ideas over major 7th and minor 7th chords which are present in the harmony of All the Things You Are (Hammerstein, 1939). The first example of Scofield utilising blue notes over a major 7th tonality can be seen in the 4th bar of this solo. The tonality of this particular bar is (A) flat major 7. Scofield plays a (G) flat note which is the flat 7th, which harmonically implies a Dominant 7th chord. Throughout this bar he utilises blues expressive devices to achieve colour tones commonly found in jazz. Scofield bends the tonic note (A)


flat up to (A) natural which is the flat nine of the chord. Although the (A) flat note is a resolution, Scofield immediately bends to a tension note, denying the feeling of resolution. It isnt the actual note choice that makes Scofields approach over the (A) flat chord interesting, it is how he produces these tonalities, by employing bending techniques that are reminiscent of blues musicians such as B.B King and Muddy Waters. The use of blues-like bends to colour the underlying harmony can be illustrated further in bar 34. Over the (E) flat dominant 7 chord Scofield bends the 9th (F) up to a note that lays somewhere between the natural 9th and the shape 9, then resolves back to the 9th (F). The actual sharpened 9th tonality over a dominant 7 chord is not uncommon in jazz harmony, however the bending technique used to achieve the tonalities is quite unique. The practice of a semi tone bend that returns to the original note is a device commonly found in the blues and is often referred to as a bend and release. This technique can be heard in the styles of a plethora of notable blues artists being illustrated by Figure 2, bar 2 of B.B Kings Paying the Cost to Be the Boss (King, 1968) in the blues language section of this dissertation. The use of space within this bar 34 helps give weight to this blues figure and adds contrast to the bebop language that follows in bars 35 and 36. Bar 51 and 52 contain various expressive techniques used by blues artists and further illustrates how Scofield manages to incorporate these elements within jazz harmony and phrasing. The two bars in question are a (G) major 7 tonality. He bends a flat 3rd (B) flat up to a note that lies just below the natural 3rd (B) creating a blue note. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this particular phrase is the way Scofield bends the 9th (A) up to natural 3rd (B) making use of all the micro tonal increments along the way. The dynamic and technical control required of this particular bend is astounding and echoes the influence of B.B King. This expressive element is exhibited in B.B Kings Paying the Cost for Being the Boss(King, 1968) figure 2. The way Scofield manoeuvres out of this blues like bend by targeting an (F#) note which is the 6th of next chord (A) minor, demonstrates he is acutely aware of how these blues expressive techniques fit within the harmonic context. The two bars preceding bars 51 and 52 are also quite sparse, both rhythmically and melodically, once again adding contrast and allowing the blues phrasing room to shine.


Bars 58 through to bar 60, draw attention to Scofields ability to fuse blues type bends with bebop phrasing. Over the (B) dominant 7 chord in bar 58, Scofield sounds the 9th (C) sharp, then immediately bends the sharpened fifth (G) up to the 13th (G) sharp. Bar 59 shows Scofield follow the bend with a chromatic jazz phrase over the (E) major 7th and (C) 7th altered chords. Once again Scofield sets up his blues language with the use of space, which is evident in bar 57. This seems to be a trend within this improvisation. Scofields awareness of how blues language can be applied within complex jazz harmony is further illustrated in the 4th chorus of this improvisation during bars 135 to 140. Scofield employs a blues like double stop on beat 4 of bar 135, by sounding an (A)flat and sliding an (E)flat up to (F) simultaneously. Double stops are commonly used devices among blues guitarists as shown in Figure 1.1 of Chapter 1. Bars 137 through to 140 not only demonstrate Scofields capacity for micro tonal nuance but also give insight into how Scofield thinks harmonically. Scofield superimposes the (D) flat blues mode over the (A) flat major 7th, (D) flat major, (D) flat minor 7th and (C) minor 7th chords. The use of this scale over these chords creates various points of tension and resolution. During bar 137 a (B) flat is bent up to a (C) flat note, which is then released back down to a (B) flat note in bar 138 over a (D) flat minor chord.


Timbre Scofields guitar tone on All the Things You Are (Hammerstein, 1939) employs a slight distortion on the initial attack of the note; however, each note still retains a distinct clarity. This particular tone colour strays from traditional jazz guitar tone and is reminiscent of blues artists such as Muddy Waters and B.B. King. An example of this type of tone can be heard on track 2 of the accompanying compact disc, which is taken from Muddy Waters Mannish Boy (Morganfield, 1955). Although Scofield utilises this tone throughout most of the improvisation, he employs devices to manipulate timbre as a means of expression, a trait commonly found amongst blues musicians. During bars 137 to 140 Scofield produces variations in timbre by employing expressive techniques such as bends and altering the velocity of his attack on the strings. This results in a vocal-like cry, which not only engages the listener, but helps to personify the phrase. Bars 150 and 152 are another example of timbre being manipulated to obtain vocal like qualities and clearly demonstrate Scofields awareness of the capacity of timbre as an expressive tool. This example is achieved by Scofield changing his articulation and striking the string closer to the bridge of the guitar. This sound is similar to an effect called wah-wah (refer to expressive techniques chapter). This effect is commonly used by rock, blues and funk musicians and was originally designed to mimic the human voice.


Analysis of Scofields solo on Wee

General Wee(Best, 1949) appears on John Scofields 2004 release, EnRoute (Scofield, 2004). EnRoute is a live album by The John Scofield Trio recorded at New York's Blue Note jazz club in December 2003. The tune is derived from the jazz standard composed by George and Ira Gershwin entitled I Got Rhythm (Gershwin, 1930). The tune consists of a 32 bar form and Scofields improvisation spans a total of 8 choruses. The harmonic progression of this tune is known as Rhythm Changes, a frequently used as a point of investigation amongst jazz musicians.

Bending and Blue Notes As mentioned in the previous analysis of All the Things You Are (Hammerstein, 1939), Scofields harmonic language is largely derived from jazz. This particular improvisation on the tune Wee (Best, 1949) is another example of how Scofield inflects bebop phrasing with blues sensibilities such as blue notes and bends. Bars 81 to 86 contain a very interesting phrase that employs large intervallic leaps. Throughout this phrase Scofield uses string bends to distort intonation and utilise the pitch complexes that exist between two notes. The use of these micro tonal increments generates harmonic tension and captures the listeners attention. Bars 113 and 114, which occurs during the 4th chorus of his solo are played over a (D) dominant 7th chord and displays Scofields ability to interweave blues elements into the harmonic fabric of jazz. Scofield repeatedly bends the tonic note (D) up to a note the flat 9th (D) sharp, creating a (D) dominant 7th flat 9 tonality. He also allows space before this phrase allowing for greater contrast between the predominantly swung eighth note angular bebop phrasing that proceeds bar 113 and 114. Bars 131 and 132 illustrate Scofields use of the flattened 5th degree of a chord. The phrase is quite angular and outlines a (B) flat dominant 7th flat five tonality. Scofield employs string bends and slurs to exploit the microtonal increments that surround the flattened 5th (E).


Bar 169 to 176 provide further weight to Scofields ability to in fuse jazz harmony with blues inflection and nuance. Over the (G) dominant 7th chord, Scofield bends the augmented 5th (E) flat, up to the 13th (E), then releases the bend back down to the augmented 5th. This is another example of Scofield employing the bend and release technique that is associated with many blues guitarists as shown in Figure 2. Once again, Scofield uses space and relatively simple rhythmic material as a way of developing contrast between this blues inflections and the jazz phrasing that proceeds and follows. During bar 173, contains a (B) flat major chord, Scofield plays the 13th (G) then rolls or bends the string off the fret board of the guitar. The resulting pitch seems to be a (D) note. By exploiting such techniques Scofield is able to create ambiguity in intonation, resulting in blue notes. Scofield uses the blues influences that permeate his style quite sparingly, using them as a means of creating contrast and building energy. These colourations are a deep part of Scofields individualism and originality. Bar 205 substantiates this notion of Scofields ability to employ common harmonic chordal alterations found in jazz, with a manner that is unique and personalised. Over a (B) flat chord, Scofield bends the 4th (E) flat, up the Flat 5 (E) natural, and then releases the bend back down to the 4th. Although the use of these colour tones is a common device found in the jazz syntax, Scofield is able to personify these notes with the use a bend, which is a powerful expressive tool.


Timbre Scofields guitar tone on Wee (Best, 1949) exhibits many characteristics similar to those found in the stylings of blues guitarists, exhibiting a raw quality. This solo displays Scofield aptitude for creating timbrel variation while improvising within a jazz structure, further highlighting the impact of blues artist on his improvisatory style. However throughout this improvisation, Scofield doesnt employ timbrel variation as in All the Things You Are (Hammerstein, 1939). Scofields capacity to manipulate timbre is evident during bars 201 to 205, and once again echoes the influence of Muddy Waters and B.B King. Throughout this passage Scofield changes his articulation on the (E) notes, striking the string closer to the bridge of the guitar; a common used device by Scofield for manipulating timbre. Scofield also employs a wide and fast vibrato throughout this passage which creates a sound similar to that heard in the slide playing of Muddy Waters and the finger vibrato of B.B. King.


Conclusion The main goal of this investigation was firstly to establish the extent to which the blues language permeates John Scofields improvisational style and secondary to understand how he utilise these elements in his playing. To pursue this goal, it was essential to first examine what is the blues language. This task and is a thesis topic in itself; however, throughout chapter one, the author believes that the blues has been shown to be a highly sophisticated and intricate form of music that embraces micro tonality, swing and timbrel manipulation in order to heighten the emotional impact a performer has on their audience and to form a sense of individualism. This focus on individualism is not only central to blues; it is an essential ingredient in jazz and is perhaps why these two genres have frequently borrowed from one another throughout their histories. Due to the restrictions of this dissertation the investigations into elements such as the blue note, timbre and rhythm were quite narrow and both jazz and blues musicians would benefit from further investigation into these elements. Chapter two focused on John Scofields improvisatory style and set out to demonstrate how the blues elements discussed in chapter one were employed within a straight ahead jazz context. It can be easily shown by the various quotes attributed to John Scofield that appear in this dissertation that Scofield is indeed influenced by blues artists. Nonetheless, determining how he uses these influences can only be achieved by analysing his improvisations. In so doing it has been demonstrated that apart from his distorted guitar sound, Scofield uses the blues language rather sparingly within his jazz improvisations, as a way of creating contrast in his music and to exert an individualism throughout his playing style. Although Scofield harmonic and rhythmic language is derived primarily from the jazz idiom, the blues is deeply rooted within his style and is not used merely for decorative effect. Perhaps Scofields own words give the greatest insight into the role the blues plays within his improvisational approach.


I am totally in debt to the blues. I think blues is really powerful music, the good blues...I think I was one of the first to seriously try to incorporate that element, the phrasing of blues and rock, with the be-bop chords and changes. For me its really hard to separate between jazz or fusion, rhythm & blues, blues, or rock music. In a way, I think all those elements are in my music... John Scofield (Weisethuanet) This statement is poignant in that it is his attitude towards music that has allowed Scofield to develop an individual voice on the guitar, and along with other players such as Bill Frisell and Pat Metheny, has helped to breathe new life back into jazz guitar.


Appendix 1 (Track 20)






Appendix 2 (Track 21)

by Bruce Saunders






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