A field day every time he’s here

When the travel-weary John Scofield finally took to Det Kongelige Teater stage at midnight this summer during the Copenhagen Jazz Festival, it was not a surprise to see the old theatre nearly empty.  Scofield and his band, after all, stuck in Romania most of the day due to flight cancellations, were three hours late. But, at what was a testament to this city’s love of jazz and the great jazz guitarist’s soulfully sensitive playing, an enthusiastic audience embraced him for a delightful and generous show into the wee hours of the morning.

“It was cool,” Scofield said in an interview with InOut. “We were so happy to have made it, and when we got on stage after so much travel, it became a great day playing for a wonderful audience.  It seemed like the old days because it used to be that concerts were late starting, with anticipation and a little bit of drama.”  

It is unlikely there will be any such drama for Scofield’s two-night engagement at the superbly renovated Copenhagen Jazzhouse, but it’s a near certainty that this thoughtful jazz giant − fluent in jazz interpretations ranging from blues and rock to R&B, funk and bop − will deliver another excellent performance.  “I love playing in Copenhagen − it’s always been one of the best audiences for me,” Scofield enthused. “I always feel great there. The people really get the music.”

Part of Scofield’s success can be attributed to his enthusiastic engagement in his playing and exploration. The 60-year-old American-born musician has been a leader on over 30 diverse albums and played with some of jazz music’s finest names:  Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Chet Baker, Ron Carter, Joe Henderson and many others. It never feels as if Scofield is just going through the motions; instead he clearly loves what he does and wants to share it with his listeners.

“I try to play to the audience; some jazz musicians just play to each other,” Scofield said. “I am not changing the music to suit the audience, but projecting it out to the audience.  The audience is really, really important, and any musician who says they’re not is either deluded or lying.”
Scofield will be joined by a mentor of his, the exceptional bass player Steve Swallow, who is 12 years his senior, and a dynamic drummer, Bill Stewart. 

Together, as a trio, Scofield explains that they will be sure to listen to one another yet hear themselves, and together the group will set forth on an evening of high-level exploration and improvisation.

“I’ve been dealing with this language, jazz, and trying to learn it and refine it on its own terms,” Scofield said.  “The whole thing of improvisation, so important in jazz, turns out to be like life itself.  It’s what we all do every day when we go through life and have to deal with our different situations.  The improvisation element in jazz music makes it really real.  In a way that other music maybe isn’t.  We can relate to that improvisation that we hear intuitively as just part of life.”

John Scofield Trio
Copenhagen Jazzhouse, Neils Hemmingsens Gade 10, Cph K; Mon & Tue 5 & 6, 20:00; tickets 350 kr.; www.jazzhouse.dk, www.johnscofield.com