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Six-String Theories

Bill Frisell, John Scofield, Julian Lage and Marvin Sewell on the state of jazz guitar

Julian Lage, Blue Note, NYC, April 2014
Kurt Rosenwinkel and Eric Clapton, Crossroads Guitar Festival, Madison Square Garden 2013
John Scofield
Marvin Sewell
Bill Frisell

John Scofield remembers when he, Pat Metheny and Bill Frisell were the new kids on the block. In the early ’60s they had all started out as rock ‘n’ roll fans; by the late ’60s they had turned their backs on rock ‘n’ roll to devote themselves to the examples of Wes Montgomery and Jim Hall. In the ’70s they would help to fuse those two streams into a third that has dominated jazz guitar for several decades.

“This huge thing happened in the mid- to late ’60s,” recalls Scofield, 62. “All these devices were invented to change the tone of the guitar, like the wah-wah pedal, the distortion box, the fuzztone. Our generation bought all that stuff, plugged it in and saw what it did. It was the same stuff that gave Hendrix, Clapton and those guys their sound. Then Miles used it in his stuff. It didn’t seem to change how you played, but it changed how you sounded, and how you sound ultimately changes how you play.

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