(HILLSIDE, NJ) -- Live music onstage has returned to Kean University, with a Kean Stage outdoor concert July 17 at 6:30pm by Grammy-winning jazz guitarist John Scofield and the John Scofield Trio featuring Vicente Archer & Bill Stewart on the Lawn at Enlow Hall.
A celebrated improviser and composer whose work melds jazz with rock, blues, funk and a touch of country music, Scofield, who lives in New York, said he is looking forward to performing at Kean and entertaining a live crowd again.
“It’s the New York area, where I’m from. I feel very much at home,” said Scofield, who said he was “ecstatic” to return to the stage this spring after the COVID-19 pandemic-imposed hiatus.
“There’s nothing like live music. There’s nothing like making an evening out of it for the listener,” he said.
Steve Cochran, manager of Kean Stage, said the concert is a “restart” for the University’s concert series, the first of three live musical performances on the outdoor stage on Kean’s East Campus. “We’re very excited about it,” he said.
Following the Scofield Trio, Kean Stage will host jazz vocalist Michael Mayo on July 24, and on July 31, Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter Judith Hill. Premiere Stages’ family entertainment series, in partnership with Kean Stage, will take place each Saturday morning prior to the evening concerts.
For tickets to the Scofield Trio and other events visit keanstage.com or contact the Box Office at (908) 737-7469. The Box Office is open Tuesday-Friday from 10:00am - 3:00pm.
Scofield began playing guitar in the 1960s at age 12, teaching himself songs from the radio and forming his own band, the Skylarks. He began touring professionally in 1974, after attending Berklee College of Music.
The influential guitarist has recorded more than 30 albums, and regularly performs throughout Europe and in venues ranging from Lincoln Center, in New York City, to Terrapin Crossroads, a California club owned by Grateful Dead co-founder Phil Lesh.
Scofield has performed with Miles Davis, Chet Baker, Pat Metheny, Herbie Hancock, Bill Frisell, Mavis Staples, Lesh and countless other major musical names. The John Scofield Trio includes jazz drummer Stewart and bass player Archer.
“Jazz is part of all music that exists right now in popular music. Whether we know it or not, jazz is there,” Scofield said. “When we all play together, everybody gets to do their own thing, but we trust each other. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
During the pandemic, Scofield did a few online performances, including a streamed concert with a group of friends calling themselves “Bandemic.” But like so many people, he said he spent most of his time at home.
“At first I really kind of panicked. I thought, ‘I’m going to lose my technique.’ You have to train to be a jazz musician,” he said. “When I played my first gig after the pandemic, I was ecstatic because I was getting to do it for a live audience. It felt like home again.”
Described as a guitarist who “lives in the space where rock meets the funky blues,” Scofield said he is constantly still learning. ”I have so much stuff I’m studying, and writing music on my own, and practicing,” he said.
He takes little time for self-congratulation. Of his Grammy wins in 2016 and 2017, which came after four previous nominations, he said “it was nice to finally win. It’s nice to be recognized.”
The statuettes are still in the cases they came in, however, tucked away in his basement.
“I just feel weird putting them on the mantle. I’m proud of my accomplishment, and sometimes I think maybe I should do that,” he said. “But, I’d rather be humble.”
The John Scofield Trio featuring Vicente Archer & Bill Stewart performs on Saturday, July 17 at 6:30 p.m. the Lawn at Enlow Hall (215 North Ave, Hillside, NJ). Tickets are $45 and chairs will be provided. In the event of rain, the performance will be moved to Sunday, July 18 at 6:30pm.
Photo by International Music Network. Interview by Jeanette Rundquist.
Founded in 1855, Kean University is one of the largest metropolitan institutions of higher education in the region, with a richly diverse student, faculty and staff population. Kean continues to play a key role in the training of teachers and is a hub of educational, technological and cultural enrichment serving more than 16,000 students. The University’s six undergraduate colleges offer more than 50 undergraduate degrees over a full range of academic subjects. The Nathan Weiss Graduate College offers six doctoral degree programs and more than 80 options for graduate study leading to master’s degrees, professional diplomas or certifications. With campuses in Union, Toms River, Jefferson and Manahawkin, New Jersey, and Wenzhou, China, Kean University furthers its mission by providing an affordable and accessible world-class education.
Kean Stage at Kean University educates, entertains and challenges audiences by presenting high-quality programs that reflect the diversity of the region and of the arts. These cultural offerings complement the intellectual life of the classroom for our students, increase opportunities for community engagement, and provide affordable access to the arts for New Jersey residents. Audiences of all ages are invited to enjoy a wide range of professional theatre, Broadway tours, dance performances, concerts, international films and family-friendly shows. In addition, Kean Stage encourages University students to attend events, and provides several opportunities to explore the performing arts through master classes, workshops, lectures, and employment opportunities as ushers, backstage technicians and box office staff.