John Scofield “Loud Jazz” Contest (Musician Magazine)

This June, I’m going to have the pleasure of seeing guitarist John Scofield in concert for the third time in my life.  I usually don’t make habit of seeing an artist more than once to make opportunities for other concerts of interest.  However, I will make an exception if I deem the event to be special circumstances.  When it comes to jazz, the collaborative spirit of the artists involved make such special circumstances occur rather frequently.  In this case, Scofield is touring with a project called Hudson, which features an impressive ensemble of Hudson River Valley area musicians including keyboardist John Medeski, bassist Larry Grenadier, and drummer Jack DeJohnette.

The first time I saw Scofield was at the Toronto Jazz Festival in 2014, where his Uberjam group co-headlined the evening with Dave Holland.  I saw him again later that year with Medeski Scofield Martin & Wood’s performance at Massey Hall.  My companions to this third Scofield sighting will be my twin brother (I have yet to see a concert without him), and our father.  I love taking my dad to a concert sometime near Father’s Day or his birthday (which, in his case, are two weeks apart) since, like most kids, my parents were my chief providers of (among basically everything else) music.  I was always overwhelmed by flipping through dad’s record collection when I was a kid.  I’d have no idea where to start, but he’d often be parked next to the turntable in the basement, with comically large headphones on, and foot tapping in perfect, metronomic rhythm.  I’d be pulled aside from play for minutes at a time and take my turn as listener, being treated to whatever my dad was interested in at the time, be it ELO, Herbie Hancock, or Pink Floyd.  It was my brother and I who turned dad on to John Scofield, which is a nice feeling being able to introduce different music to someone who helped to grow your interests in the first place.  We already saw Scofield together with Uberjam, and we know dad’s looking forward to seeing him again.

I’d like very much to take my mother to a concert one day once I find an appropriate show to take her to, fitting it in around her existing work schedule and her particular tastes.  She has never been the music consumer that my father is, but introduced me to music in different ways.  She was a nursery school teacher before becoming a stay-at-home mom, so she had a number of children’s songs she would sing to us, some from her childhood and others she would commit to memory while on the job.  She was responsible for loading up our early music collections with Raffi, Fred Penner, and Sharon, Lois & Bram along with other children’s entertainers.  I find her taste in music is generally built around songs that spread positive messages, ones that convey love, relationships, and enjoyment of life among the lyrical themes.  I greatly look forward to seeing the look on her face the moment we can share our first concert together.

Anyway, I’m drifting here.  I want to talk about Sco!  In particular, the following relic from the July 1988 issue of Musician magazine:

This is an intriguing contest in many ways.  I’m used to seeing contest forms of this nature in music magazines.  I definitely remember entering a contest to win bassist Billy Sheehan’s gear as a promotion for his first solo album, Compression, in one of the first issues of Bass Player magazine that I ever purchased.  However, I can’t recall seeing many that use drawings of the artist involved in place of a photograph. It makes me think of something straight out of a comic book from 1958 rather than 1988, perhaps in place of an advertisement for Grit newspaper or some Charles Atlas muscle-building program.

I own a number of Scofield albums, but I do not own Loud Jazz or any of his Gramavision albums that preceded it.  I do have Flat Out, which came out the following year.  If this contest had started today, I’d have no overlap in my collection if I was one of the lucky five finalists.  Though if that were the case, I guess Flat Out would be included, or a different record label would be backing the contest altogether.  Why worry about this anyway?  It’s not like my hypothetical prize-winning matters.  I was a three-year old when this contest launched, thus ineligible to enter.  Granted, I think my siblings and I could have killed it with some free-form on the Fisher Price Crazy Combo Horn.

The “One-Of-A-Kind” guitar promise may be a stretch of the term.  I view the expression as if you’d be getting a musical instrument custom-made straight from a luthier’s shop, but it’s rarely used in that context.  It’s modelled after his own Ibanez guitar, but it most likely wouldn’t have been exactly like the one he plays.  That’s based off my limited knowledge of so-called signature series guitars and basses.  There’s usually something, be it the pickups used, the wood that it’s made out of, the machine heads, or something else, that keep it from being 100% like the artist’s personal instrument.  But that’s just me being extremely nit-picky.  I wouldn’t mind if one of these fell into my lap.

The biggest thing that captures my imagination is the outcome of this contest.  Seemingly, Gramavision had ingeniously used this not only as a promotional tool for both John Scofield and the label, but as an inventive recruiting opportunity to find some fresh sounds.  My curiousity is bringing up so many questions!

Who won the grand prize?  Was it anybody I may have heard of?

Did any musician of note submit an entry that was ultimately rejected?

Did they publish the results in a future issue of the magazine, or did they keep it on the down low?

If I were to scan through Gramavision’s release history, would I find the winner or any other contestants?

Did the session even happen?  If so, did Scofield actually attend it?

Scofield was set to pick the winner himself, so maybe I’d need to go right to the source and ask him.  I’ll keep my eyes open, but if anyone knows the answer, please let me know in the comments.

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