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Learn From 5 Jazz Fusion Legends

Zakk Jones

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John Scofield on “Groove Elation” (Video Start 8:33)

‘Sco. ‘Nuff said! One of the great masters of music. Scofield has an uncanny way of navigating any changes hard or simple with great ease, patience, grit and a bit of humor as well. He is a great example of how you can use the instrument itself in unique ways to drastically change your tone, timbre and pitch, simply by picking in a different part of the neck or bending a string up off the fretboard entirely.

The title track from “Groove Elation” is a stellar example of his ability to play simply while laying down a deep groove and using extended harmony. 

Jazz Fusion Legends #3
  • It’s obvious right off the bat that he is using a rhythmic motif to drive this line. For the first 3 measures he uses the same motif starting on the and of 1 and 3. 
  • Great masters of rhythm know that you have to combine on and off beats, and you can see that clearly in this example. After he uses the off-beat rhythmic motif for three measures, the next two all have distinct downbeat driven phrases
  • Note-wise he sticks with small intervals within an Eb7 sound for those first two measures
  • He then brings it outside in m. 3-4, implying alternate changes of Em7 and A7, which is a tri-tone sub of Bbm7 and Eb7 which would be the traditional turnaround to the IV chord. This is a very common harmonic substitution that once you get in your ears, you will hear used very often by players like Bill Evans or Bobby Broom. 
  • Notice how the first three measures are sparse, and in the 4th measure he uses the most movement, as well as the most tension harmonically, before resolving very naturally into a basic triad. 
  • This fragment is just perfect in every way. He uses rhythm and altered harmony to highlight tension and release.

Any Scofield is great to listen to but check out:

Wee

Chank

Do Like Eddie

5 Jazz Fusion Legends Lesson continues – NEXT


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