Jazz guitarist John Scofield, instructor in NYU Steinhardt’s Jazz Studies program, won two 2017 Grammy Awards for Best Instrumental Jazz Album for Country For Old Men and Best Improvised Jazz Solo for “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” off of the same album.
Scofield won his first Grammy Award last year, also the award for Best Instrumental Jazz Album for his album Past Present.
Country for Old Men – a play on the title of Cormac McCarthy’s book No Country for Old Men – is a collection of a dozen songs from country music icons through the lens of modern jazz. Songs include an upbeat version of Hank Williams’ iconic “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried,” and Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.”
“My idea for this record was to take country tunes and turn them into jazz ones,” Scofield explains, “Because country tunes are simple—they’re easy to reharmonize. The improvisation and group feel are essential to each track.”
Scofield is known for his distinctive guitar sound and stylistic diversity, and has collaborated and played with musical greats Miles Davis, Chet Baker, Charles Mingus, Pat Metheny, Mavis Staples, and Phil Lesh. He has been part of the Jazz Studies faculty at NYU Steinhardt since 2005.
The 59th Annual Grammy Awards were held yesterday in Los Angeles’s Staples Center, hosted by The Late Late Show’s James Corden. In addition to Scofield’s two nominations, other nominees from NYU Steinhardt included Jazz Studies’ Alan Ferber and Alan Broadbent, as well as alumni Ari Hest (BS ’02) and Jeanne Montalvo (MM ’12).
Ferber, a trombonist and composer, was nominated for Best Instrumental Composition for “Flow” off of his latest album Roots & Transitions. Broadbent, a pianist, composer, and arranger, was nominated in the category of Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals for “I’m a Fool to Want You,” recorded by Kristin Chenoweth. Hest, who graduated with a degree in communication studies, earned his first Grammy nomination for Best Folk Album for Silver Skies Blue, a collaboration with singer-songwriter Judy Collins. Montalvo, who graduated with a degree in music technology, was nominated for Best Historical Album for her work as a mastering engineer on Vladimir Horowitz: The Unreleased Live Recordings 1966-1983.