George Benson & John Scofield Compared

by | Jazz Improvisation

Transcribed from Video:

For this lesson I picked 2 of my favorite living jazz guitar masters…George Benson on the bebop side and John Scofield on the post-bop side. Some might even call it old school and new school, side by side. Stylistically speaking, they sound so different on the surface, yet when you place there solos under the microscope you’ll be surprised to learn how much they have in common.

And to prove this point I have transcribed 1 chorus of each guitarist playing over the same up tempo blues progression in the key of F.  So next I am going to play each guitarists solo at a moderate tempo, trying to emulate their respective styles the best I can. After that I will break down and analyze each one. I’m Richie Zellon and I want to invite you to stick with me because you will be amazed as to what you will learn!  Listen to George Benson ‘s 5th chorus on his solo over Billie’s Bounce from his early album “Giblet Gravy”. (plays Benson solo)

Ok, full disclosure here. I can easily play a nice improvised solo over that progression, but believe me… it is an entire different matter to sight read the transcription at that tempo and get all the nuances down. I would have to practice it for a few days and I didn’t see the point of delaying this lesson. So I in fact recorded it in 4 measure segments to get it down. And that is the same thing I did for this next one which is even harder to get all the nuances. This is John Scofields 7th chorus of his solo on Trio Blues from the album “This Meets That”. (Plays Scofield Solo)

George Benson Solo Analysis

Let’s examine George Benson’s solo and I’ll play it in segments so you can hear it slowly. Also please pay special attention to the melodic analysis because we are going to find many of these same identical concepts in Scofield’s solo.


George Benson Solo meas.1-4

The first 3 measures are very diatonic and I would say triadic in nature. So we have 3, 1, 13, 9 and b7. The 2nd measure is made up of a 5, 3, b7 5 and 3. It’s all very Mixolydian. Now in the 3rd measure he is super-imposing a G minor triad…5, b3 and 1.

In measure 4 he is using a fragment of an altered chord arpeggio which is derived from the Super-Locrian mode.


George Benson Solo meas.5-8

Measure 5 starts the IV chord which is again Mixolydian based. We have a 5, the 4 acting as a passing tone to the 3 and the 9. Now in the 6th measure he introduces one of the most characteristic melodic concepts of the bebop idiom…the enclosure. We have the 6 and the 1 enclosing the b7 followed by a 5, and the 13 twice.

Measure 7 returns to F7 or the I chord and here he plays an ascending dominant 9th arpeggio starting from the 3rd and approaching the 5th chromatically from below. This is followed by a chromatic which  many would call a major 7, and then a 9.  That maj7 is really acting as a chromatic approach from below to the 1. It is first an indirect approach with the resolution being delayed by the upcoming 9th. But at the high tempo it is played it works fine. Keep in mind that if you were to play this at a slow tempo, it might clash with the underlying dominant 7th chord….We see that the same chromatic then repeats this time  resolving directly to the 1 followed by the 9.

The 8th measure is over a D7altered chord and here Benson is using various notes of a descending Super-Locrian scale to resolve down to the root of Gm7. The line starts with a b9, then we have a chromatic approach down to the b6, followed by the 3rd which by the way is written en-harmonically for easier sight reading. Normally it would be an F#. That is followed by the b2, the b7, b6, b5 and resolves to the G root on the 9th measure.


George Benson Solo meas.9-12

On the 9th measure after playing the root we have a pick up into C7 which is the V7 of the key. This a IIm7 chord and of course uses a Dorian. We have 2, b3, 5 and no, not a major 7, but instead a chromatic approach to the first note of the 10th measure which is an F. Now, I want to point out that for the first half of this 10th measure, Benson is super-imposing a Db7 which is the tritone substitute of G7 and resolves by half step down to the C7 in the 2nd half.  And so we first have the 3, 5 and b7 of the Db7 followed by a fragment of a descending C Super Locrian made up of #9, b9, 1 and b7.

The 11th measure outlines a II-V to the Gm7. So we initially have an Am7 arpeggio…1, b3, 5 and b7, followed by a chromatic approach to the #9 over the D7 altered. Finally for the first half of the 12th measure, over the Gm7 we have the 9, 5 and b7 of a G Dorian followed by a C Mixolydian featuring a chromatic approach to the 13, the b7  and a chromatic note which resolves by half step up to the initial  C which would begin the next chorus.

Before I proceed, I want to say that the main thing that we are going to find different in Scofields playing lies in his use of articulation. While Benson picks almost every note in a very stacatto fashion, Scofield does pretty much the opposite. He plays very legato using slides, hammer ons, pull offs and in addition overdrive which adds sustain to his notes. Having said that, we are going to see that the melodic content, apart from some occasional wide interval leaps, are based on the same bebop concepts employed by Benson. Let’s not forget that Scofield is from a younger generation than Benson and most likely listened to his recordings as well as those of other bebop guitarists during his early jazz education.  With this in mind, let’s analyze his solo and see what it reveals.

​John Scofield Solo Analysis


John Scofield Solo meas 1-4

In the first measure “Sco” starts on the 5th, and slides down to the 4th which acts a passing tone to the 3rd. Then he reverses the line and goes back up using the same 4 this time to resolve back to the 5. In measure 2 he plays around with the same notes but this time throws the 6 in, again followed by the 5, 4, 3 and 5, ending the phrase on the 3rd measure with a chromatic approach from below to the 3rd. It’s all Mixolydian based and very diatonic indeed, just like Benson started out his chorus.

Measure 4 introduces an enclosure here, which I pointed out earlier is a characteristic bebop concept. He starts out with a chromatic approach to the 3rd and then begins a chromatic enclosure from below and above to the 1. This is followed by a b7 and a chromatic approach to the #5 or b13. This is evidence that he could well be thinking over an altered dominant here just like Benson also did over his 4th measure.


John Scofield Solo meas 5-9

The 5th measure or IV chord has one of those classic wide interval leaps employed by Scofield. The phrase starts with the 3, followed by the 5, the #11, a leap up to the root, followed by the 3rd and back down to the root and below to the 5th. Then on measure 6 he starts playing over a Bb minor pentatonic…4, b7, 5, 4, a #4 which is what we call a “blue note”, back to the 4, b3 and ending the phrase with the root twice.

On measure 7 Scofield this time plays over an F minor pentatonic…4, b3, 1, and a chromatic approach to the 5.

Measure 8 uses notes over the 1st half from a Phrygian Dominant…3,5,b7,b9 and in the 2nd half from a Super Locrian…root, b13, and b7 back to the root.


John Scofield Solomeas 9-12

Measure 9 begins the Gm7 or IIm7 chord with a flurry of 8th notes all the way to the last measure. Notice the amount of enclosures he uses in measures 9 and 10. He starts with an enclosure using the 6 and 4 to the 5 followed by the 3rd. Then an enclosure using the 4 and 2 to the b3 followed by the root. Then he begins the 10th measure or the V7 chord with an enclosure using the 6 and a chromatic from below to the 5 followed by the 6. This in turn resolves up to the b7 and then leaps down to the 4 which resolves to the 3rd followed by the 5. This is a purely Dorian and Mixolydian based II-V.

The 11th measure takes us to the final I chord and for the first half uses a 5, 4, 3 and 2 which in turn resolves to the 3rd of the D7b9 on the 2nd half. This is followed by a 3, 5, b7 and the final note is an anticipation and the root of the upcoming G minor chord.

And we’ve arrived at the 12th measure or turnaround. Interestingly enough, here he seems to start with the b3 of the G minor but then shifts to a G7b9 by introducing a chromatic approach to the root, followed by a b9 and 3rd. Actually the initial b3 can also be analyzed as the #9 of a G altered chord. And to conclude over the C7, he introduces another enclosure this time, using the 2 and 4 to the 3rd, ending with a 2 resolving to the C which begins the next chorus.


The Benson & Scofield Blues Files can be downloaded for $6.00 (buy me a cup of coffee & a snack?). Your contribution is much appreciated, as it helps support the site and allows me to keep investing the long hours required to produce these lessons. The download includes: 2 PDFs  with both regular notation and TAB, MP3s of the solos and 2 Band in a Box Files featuring each solo.

For those that don’t use PayPal…when you click the button below, it will give you the option to pay with any major credit card without the need to sign up for PayPal.  Note that you must be logged in for the payment and download links to be visible!

[Content protected for Jazz Guitarists Series members only][Content protected for Elite, Elite 3 Month, Elite 6 Month members only]


George Benson’s 8ves on Steroids Part1

John Scofield Lesson 1


Your Comments are greatly appreciated! Feel free to post any questions you may have or any insight you would like to share regarding this lesson.


  1. Johnny Hansen

    Hi Richie. I have been using your youtube videos for a while and gets a lot out of your teaching. Have been playing guitar and bass for half a century but the Jazz is kind of new to me.
    This analysis of Benson and Scofield is giving me a lot new stuff to work with.
    Excellent way you teach.
    About the Band-in-a-Box files, what are they? I have tried to import them into Cubase Artist 10,5 that I use, but with no result. Is it the same as the mp3 files?
    Cheers, JohnnyH-DK

    • Richie Zellon

      Glad you are enjoying the lessons! As far as Band in a Box, it is a software program. Those files can’t be opened in other programs. It is not the same as the mp3s. BIAB allows you to change tempo, loop and transpose. I suggest you google it for more info.

      • Johnny Hansen

        OK, Thanks for the reply. Cheers, Johnny

Submit a Comment

Terms of Service