It might surprise the casual jazz listener that guitarist John Scofield would consider playing traditional jazz, especially considering his long association with jazz's fusion school. Add to that one of his compatriots being fellow guitarist Mike Stern, who has a similar pedigree and with whom he played in Miles Davis' band in the 1980s.
However, Mr. Scofield, who brings his Hollowbody Band, including Mr. Stern, to the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild's Jazz Hall for two shows on Saturday, doesn't really consider the acoustic-oriented band too far out of his element.
"I wrote a bunch of new music last year" that was in the straight-ahead vein, Mr. Scofield says. Indeed, "The music is about how we play, me and Mike Stern" outside of their normal element. "We're revisiting our relationship from back then."
Mr. Scofield grew up in Connecticut "learning to play simple music, which was rock blues, just like everyone else in the mid-1960s. Eventually I got into blues and that led me to jazz."
Studying at the Berklee School of Music in Boston, where he played in a R&B band with keyboardist and fellow student Jeff Lorber, Mr. Scofield would go on to record with Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker, Charles Mingus and the Gary Burton Quartet before joining Mr. Davis in 1982.
So he has the chops to pull this off.
No worries, however -- he still does the fusion thing, working with, among others, the jam band Medeski, Martin & Wood and even Phil Lesh from the Grateful Dead. "It's jazz, from a funk area," he says.
But like many musicians, Mr. Scofield occasionally appreciates doing something different.
As with most small-group acoustic jazz, "You never know where it's going to go and someone will say, 'Let's try this,' " Mr. Scofield says. The Hollowbody Band, which also includes bassist Ben Street and drummer Bill Stewart, allows him to "[keep] it loose." In fact, he has yet to determine a complete set list, which might change "between now and the time we get to Pittsburgh."
In addition to Mr. Scofield's original pieces, "We're also going to play some jazz standards as well."
Rick Nowlin: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-3871.