John Scofield digs into roots with first solo guitar album

In a career spanning more than half a century, acclaimed jazz guitarist John Scofield is doing something new by releasing his very first solo guitar recording.

Due for a May 6 release, the self-titled album is Scofield’s second recording with ECM following his 2020 release Swallow Tales.

The solo album draws on Scofield’s wealth of experience and knowledge gained from his prolific music career, making reference to all of the styles and genres he’s acquired along the way. He explores various chordal and rhythmic accompaniments with the help of a loop machine.

“I think that there’s a delicateness that I have acquired from playing at home alone,” Scofield recently said in an interview with The Boston Herald. “I am so used to playing with a slamming band and there’s a certain musicality to that. That went away and was replaced by this more delicate approach of pinpointing the beauty of the strings. When I play solo, I make these little guitar loops on the fly, and it’s almost like I’m playing with another person.”

Listen to the first song, Honest I Do:

The choice to make it an eponymous album represents its significance to John Scofield, as he digs deep into his formative roots and the musical heroes of his youth. “When I was a kid the guitar was the instrument of rock ‘n’ roll and popular music — that’s what I was interested in,” Scofield says. Whether it’s tributes to his rock ‘n’ roll heroes like Buddy Holly and Hank Williams or his own compositions, he approaches the songs with the melodic singability of timeless jazz standards. In this release, Scofield continues to stay true to the jazz traditions he’s observed and participated in over the years.

“I never think about ideas when I write music,” Scofield says. “Instrumental music exists in a different part of your brain. It’s not about an idea that can be described with language or visually. Music exists in its own place.”

Scofield says this new work aims to paint a complete portrait of John Scofield, curated with the music and influences that shaped his identity as a musician.

Here’s the track listing:

  1. Coral
  2. Honest I Do
  3. It Could Happen to You
  4. Danny Boy
  5. Elder Dance
  6. Mrs. Scofield’s Waltz
  7. Junco Partner
  8. There Will Never Be Another You
  9. My Old Flame
  10. Not Fade Away
  11. Since You Asked
  12. Trance de Jour
  13. You Win Again

John Scofield will be released May 6, 2022, via ECM.