As a teenager in Chicago Scott Fields played guitar, sang, and wrote songs for rock and blues bands. Early on, however, he became interested in New Music and avant-garde jazz, largely by exposure to musicians who were active in the Association for the Advancement of Creative Music, which was centered in the south-side neighborhood in which Fields was born and raised.
At the age of 17 Fields formed the trio Life Rhythms, in which he played guitar, tenor and soprano saxophone, flute, clarinet, and sundry percussion. Two years later the group disbanded. For the next few years Fields freelanced but did not play in any fixed ensembles. In 1975 he stopped performing entirely and moved to Madison, Wisconsin, where he took classes in composition and music theory at the University of Wisconsin and studied classical guitar with George Lindquist and Javier Calderon and jazz guitar with Carl Michel and Roger Brotherhood.
In 1989 Fields resumed working as a musician. Since then, as leader of his own ensembles and as a sideman, Fields has toured throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. He has also released more than 20 CDs as a leader. In 2004 Fields relocated to Cologne, Germany.
In the past sixteen years Fields has focused on two aspects of music composition and performance. One focus has been creating structures that blur the dichotomy between notated and improvised music. The other has been developing new total and rhythmic organizations for notated and improvised music.
His most frequent settings as a composer and performer include an acoustic guitar duo with Elliott Sharp, a classical guitar and theorbe duo with Stephan Rath, the Scott Fields Freetet, a free-jazz trio or quartet with João Lobo (drums), Sebastian Gramss (contrabass) and occasional guest Matthias Schubert (tenor saxophone), and two “Scott Fields Ensemble” quartets, one with John Hollenbeck (drums), Scott Roller (cello), and Schubert and the other with Raymond Kaczynski (drums), Gramss, and Roller. When logistics allow Fields presents his modular compositions with the ad hoc Scott Fields Quite Large Ensemble.
Other ensembles have included such musicians as Marilyn Crispell (piano), Hamid Drake (percussion), Michael Formanek (contrabass), Guillermo Gregorio (alto saxophone, clarinet), Thomas Lehn (electronics), Rob Mazurek (cornet), Myra Melford (piano), Larry Ochs (saxophone), Joseph Jarman (saxophone), Jeff Parker (guitar), and Michael Zerang (percussion).