Any list of the decade’s best guitarists ought to include John Scofield, and if the heading is jazz guitarists, he’d better be near the top. Traditional jazz fans will argue this fact, and that’s a compliment to Scofield, who has showered his music with influences ranging from Wes Montgomery and John Coltrane to the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix. But that’s introductory stuff anyway: Scofield long ago found his own voice among that chorus and is clearly an influential stylist in his own right–one of a handful of guitarists who have changed jazz’s current approach to the instrument. Scofield has merged rock-your-gut electric soul with improvisational integrity, and it’s the uneasy truce between aesthetic impulses that gives his music its edge: even his wildest forays are lifted by lyrical impulses, and the stormy guitar slasher is always just behind the curtain of his loveliest ballads. This time through, Scofield’s riding the crest of his recent success for Gramavision, Flat Out, which is among his best–and thus (automatically) one of the best jazz-guitar albums of the last ten years. Tonight and Saturday, 9 PM, and Sunday, 4 and 8 PM, Joe Segal’s Jazz Showcase, Blackstone Hotel, 636 S. Michigan; 427-4300.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Waring Abbott.