John Scofield Updates His Early-‘90’s Quartet For Invigorating, Deeply Personal New Chapter In His Storied Career, Past Present, Out Sept. 25

July 15, 2015 – In Requiem for a Nun, William Faulkner wrote “the past is never dead. It’s not even past.” That line holds a tremendous amount of meaning for GRAMMY-nominated guitarist and bandleader John Scofield as he prepares to release his new album Past Present on September 25th via Impulse!/Universal Music Classics. The album is Scofield's first with an update of his early-90's quartet of Joe Lovano, Bill Stewart and Larry Grenadier (who steps in for Marc Johnson and the late Dennis Irwin) since the quartet released the acclaimed album's Meant To BeTime on My Hands and What We Do on Blue Note. It's also one of Scofield’s's most personal albums, with a number of songs written during the illness and death of his son Evan in 2013 following a fast and furious battle with cancer. Buoyed by Grenadier’s ebullient, recurring bass line and Stewart’s delicate swing, Scofield describes Past Present as “futuristic blues,” on which he and Lovano craft unison melodies before the two separate then intertwine invigorating improvisations.  

Singable melodies and infectious rhythms shine on the soul-jazz opener, “Slinky,” on which the guitar tickles an instantly catchy riff before Stewart underscores it with a supple 5/4 groove that suggests New Orleans’ second-line rhythm.  Past Present also highlights Scofield’s love for country music on the whimsical “Chap Dance,” which evokes both the wide-eyed Americana compositions of Aaron Copeland and the hoedown sophistication of Ornette Coleman’s harmolodics.

Three tunes on the album specifically touch upon Evan’s legacy. “Get Proud” and “Enjoy the Future!” – are titled after some of Evan’s catchphrases. The former is a strutting, bluesy number, steered by Stewart’s implied boogaloo shuffle, on which Scofield’s rough-hewn guitar lines and comping mesh with Lovano’s brawny tenor saxophone passages. Like the title suggests, the latter tune evokes a bright optimism as Scofield and Lovano develop billowing melodic lines that swirl around each other while the rhythm section powers them with a snazzy, pneumatic swing. Evan’s spirit also informs the introspective, mid-tempo ballad, “Mr. Puffy,” which was a nickname Evan gave himself when he was undergoing chemotherapy.

“This record is past and present,” Scofield says, “on different levels. First of all, this is this group that played together in the past and here we are in the present. That's one thing. We're still here. We come from the past, but we're in the present. Also, jazz music--and all good music--has roots in the past. What is the past and what is the present? I start to think that time has less meaning as I get older. There is a Faulkner quote about that (from Requiem for a Nun), that 'the past is never dead. It's not even past.’” 

"Much of this music was composed during the short period when Evan and his wife Ursula were living with us as he was undergoing treatment,” Scofield continues. “He was a constant in my mind. It was a bittersweet, poignant time to say the least. Is Evan only in the past because he's gone? Not at all. He's always quite present with me." 

Scofield’s 40 year professional career has seen him work with an incredibly diverse list of artists – Miles Davis, Chet Baker, Charles Mingus, George Duke, Herbie Hancock, Gary Burton, Joe Henderson, Mavis Staples, John Mayer, Dr. John, Brad Mehldau, Medeski Martin & Wood, Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead, Taj Mahal, Gov’t Mule, Charlie Haden and more. In 1998, the Montreal International Jazz Festival gave Scofield its prestigious “Miles Davis Award,” and he was also awarded Officier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France.

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For more information on the John Scofield, please contact Rob Krauser at REK Room Media, 917.703.8361 or rob@rekroommedia.com or Olga Makrias at Universal Music Classics, 212.333.1485 or olga.makrias@umusic.com.

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