John Scofield

Guitarist; Composer
Class of 
1973
Alumni

A master of his art, John Scofield has been a major figure in the guitar world since the 1970s. After graduating from Berklee College of Music in 1973, he set out on a stellar career, playing music that ranges from jazz to funk to R&B. For more than four decades, he has been a major jazz influence as a guitarist and composer.

Scofield was born in 1951 in Ohio and grew up in suburban Connecticut. By age 11, he took up guitar, inspired by rock and blues. In the late '70s, he collaborated with Gerry Mulligan, Chet Baker, and Charles Mingus before joining the Gary Burton Quartet. He soon began an international career, leading his own groups and collaborating with others. He has played with a wide range of musicians from Miles Davis, with whom he performed and recorded, to Pat Metheny, Mavis Staples, Terumasa Hino, and many others.

Always keeping an open mind, Scofield has juxtaposed jazz with more funk-oriented compositions and has experimented with adding horns, drums, and other instruments to his sound. He has recorded more than 30 albums and is still active, touring the world more than 200 days per year as well as teaching at New York University.

In 2010, his long list of awards was further bolstered when he was awarded Officier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture. His latest album, Country for Old Men, was spotlighted in September 2016 at a Berklee Signature Series concert. “We’re going to turn ‘outlaw’ country tunes into jazz vehicles,” he said before the performance. “We improvise while keeping the integrity, character, and twang of this wonderful American music.” Scofield has crafted an international career with wide-ranging interests and an enduring quest for excellence.