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John Scofield: Exploring ballads (and the nature of 'cool')

Guitarist John Scofield performing in the KPLU Seattle studios on October 28.
Justin Steyer
Guitarist John Scofield performing in the KPLU Seattle studios on October 28.

John Scofield is one of the most innovative and genre-bending guitarists in jazz.  Over the years, his great talent and eclectic tastes have garnered him a huge international following; a following which includes a lot of people who didn’t know they liked jazz until they heard Scofield. 

On a recent swing through Seattle, Scofield, along his pianist Michael Eckroth, stopped by our studios for a duet performance, hosted by Abe Beeson. 

Scofield’s latest CD is ballad-oriented and so was this performance.  He and Eckroth gave us lovely renditions of two standards, Stella By Starlight and My Foolish Heart, as well as one of his original compositions called Simply Put

Among other topics, John did a little reminiscing about his years with Miles Davis.  Abe called Miles ‘the coolest guy in the world’ and Scofield heartily agreed, saying, “Brezhnev wanted to hang out with Miles…it was kind of this cultural zenith.”  

But after you listen to the great music and interesting conversation in this session, you might come away thinking that Scofield is hot on Miles’ heels on the world-wide "cool" index.

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Abe grew up in Western Washington, a 3rd generation Seattle/Tacoma kid. It was as a student at Pacific Lutheran University that Abe landed his first job at KNKX, editing and producing audio for news stories. It was a Christmas Day shift no one else wanted that gave Abe his first on-air experience which led to overnights, then Saturday afternoons, and started hosting Evening Jazz in 1998.