One of the "big three" of current jazz guitarists (along with Pat Metheny and Bill Frisell), Scofield's influence grew in the '90s. Possessor of a very distinctive rock-oriented sound that is often a bit distorted, Scofield is a masterful jazz improviser whose music generally falls somewhere between post-bop, fusion, and soul jazz. He started on guitar while at high school in Connecticut, and from 1970-1973 Scofield studied at Berklee and played in the Boston area.
After recording with Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker at Carnegie Hall, Scofield was a member of the Billy Cobham-George Duke band for two years. In 1977 he recorded with Charles Mingus, and later joined the Gary Burton quartet and Dave Liebman's quintet. His own early sessions as a leader were funk-oriented. During 1982-1985 Scofield toured the world and recorded with Miles Davis. Since that time he has led his own groups, played with Bass Desires, and recorded frequently as a leader for Gramavision and Blue Note, using such major players as Charlie Haden, Jack DeJohnette, Joe Lovano, and Eddie Harris.
Scofield started a long-term relationship with the Verve label in 1996 with his acoustic album Quiet. He cut the funky A Go Go with Medeski, Martin & Wood in 1997 while 2000's Bump featured members of Sex Mob, Soul Coughing, and Deep Banana Blackout. 2001's Works for Me featured a more traditional jazz sound but for 2002's Uberjam and 2003's Up All Night he was back to playing fusion. Drummer Bill Stewart and bassist Steve Swallow rounded out the John Scofield Trio for 2004's cerebral and complex live album EnRoute.