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John Scofield Licks

John Scofield arguably is one of the big three of modern jazz guitarists (the other two being Pat Metheny and Bill Frisell).

 

 

 

 

 

He started playing guitar at high school and studied at Berklee from 1970 to 1973. Soon after he began playing and recording with leading jazz figures such as Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan and Charles Mingus.

From 1982 to 1985 John Scofield toured and recorded with Miles Davis. He appears on Star People , Decoy, You're Under Arrest and other albums. In 1977 he started making records as a leader. The first album being 'East Meets West' was more funk orientated than his later albums.

Scofield has a very personal and recognizable guitar sound. It is a rock-blues orientated sound and is often a bit distorted.


Recommended listening: Hand Jive

John Scofield Licks 1

This is a very melodic lick over a V going to I minor and uses the C minor harmonic scale. John Scofield uses a technique called double stops. A double stop is when you play 2 notes at the same time and can be used to outline the harmony in your solo's.

 

Listen & Play

John Scofield Lick 1

John Scofield Licks 2

In this Scofield inspired lick, there are a few triads being superimposed over the underlying chords to create interest at various points in the phrase. Using triads from the 5th of any chord is a great way to highlight the 9th of that chord while not relying on the root in your phrases.

  • The first is the Em triad over Am7 in bar one, which outlines the 5-7-9 intervals of that chord.
  • The second is the Adim triad over D7 in bar 2, this time highlighting the 5-7-b9 intervals of that chord.

 

Listen & Play

John Scofield Lick 2

John Scofield Licks 3

Here is a slippery little G7#11 lick that uses both the Lydian Dominant Scale, a Sco favorite, as well as a number of hammer-ons and pull-offs during it’s construction. A lot of Sco’s lines are full of slides and other slurs, especially from a weak beat to a strong beat. So, having a strong control of these concepts will go a long way into bringing a Scofield sound into your solos.

 

Listen & Play

John Scofield Lick 3

John Scofield Licks 4

This line over a minor ii V I chord progression features:

  • Broken arpeggios over the Am7b5 and D7alt chords, where only some of the underlying arps are played during the line.
  • The half-step motion between the b7 of the Am7b5 and the 3rd of the D7alt chord, G-F#, provides for a smooth transition between the iim7 and V7 chords in this progression.

 

Listen & Play

John Scofield Lick 4

John Scofield Licks 5

This minor chord lick features:

  • A few bluesy bends and an overall focus on the b5/#4 interval (G# in this key) throughout the lick.
  • A major 3rd passing tone used over the Dm7 chord during the second half of bar 2. This note helps to connect the b3 and 4th intervals of the chord, before resolving up to the “Dorian” note, the 6th of the chord.

 

Listen & Play

John Scofield Lick 5

 

Sco's signature licks are some of the best in the business, and are worth looking into if you are a fan, or are looking to expand your jazz guitar vocabulary.

 


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