Bobby Scott was a remarkable arranger, composer, multi-instrumentalist and singer. If you're unfamiliar with him, you certainly know his biggest pop hits in the 1960s: A Taste of Honey and He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother. Before he topped the Billboard charts, Scott began his recording career on jazz piano for Savoy in 1953 at age 16. The following year, he was discovered by producer Creed Taylor, who recorded him between 1954 and '56 for Bethlehem and then ABC-Paramount. These albums included Great Scott, The Compositions of Bobby Scott Vols. 1 and 2, Scott Free and Bobby Scott and Two Horns. He also recorded during the decade as a sideman for RCA Victor (with Hal McKusick) and for Verve (with Gene Krupa and others).
Then in 1963, just as his pop career was beginning to take hold, Scott recorded what I believe is his finest album as a composer-arranger. It's The City, an album by the Larry Elgart Orchestra for MGM with inventive charts by Scott on par with Gil Evans and Gary McFarland. It featured Elgart on alto and soprano saxophones and Scott on piano. From the scant original liner notes, Al DeRisi split the lead trumpet with Clyde Reasinger while Lew Gluckin played muted trumpet, Lucile Lawrence was on harp and Maurice Marks played drums. I'm uncertain of the personnel that fills out the rest of this large orchestra. Someone would need to look at New York Local 802's session sheets to find out.
Though discographies list this album as 1961, the album's liner notes say that Bobby was 26 at the time. Since he was born in 1937, he would have been 26 in 1963, not 1961.
What makes this album so special is the swinging modernist personality of the New York-themed suite, the wailing musicianship of the Larry Elgart (above) orchestra on extremely challenging material and Scott's inventive approach and how the orchestra's sections converse with each other. This isn't pop in the traditional sense nor is it soundtrack-y. It's just seriously hip music.
In short, it's an impressionist valentine to New York, in the same spirit as Duke Ellington's Take the A Train and Harlem Air Shaft, Charles Mingus's Scenes in the City, George Russell's New York, N.Y. , Michel Legrand's New York 1958, Kenyon Hopkins's Sound of the New York and other similar album-length interpretations. The other blessing of this album is you can listen to it over and over again and enjoy it the same way each time.
Bobby Scott died in 1990 at age 53.
JazzWax clip: Here's the entire album, starting with Scheme Street...
I'd be remiss if I didn't tell you about my last post on Bobby Scott or share this terrific clip of Scott playing and singing I Keep Going Back to Joe's, my favorite saloon song...
I was first exposed to Jazz when a couple of dear friends of mine turned me onto it around 1971. I was already into Progressive music, R n' B, Soul, Motown, Latin Rock and other styles that were a great ladder to Jazz
I was first exposed to Jazz when a couple of dear friends of mine turned me onto it around 1971. I was already into Progressive music, R n' B, Soul, Motown, Latin Rock and other styles that were a great ladder to Jazz.
Being a Musician myself, (Lead Guitar/Bass Guitar), I studied at the Dick Grove School of Music with Dick Grove, Jeff Richman and Lee Ritenour. This was around '84-'85. I started playing the Guitar in November 1967. Playing Guitar came quite naturally to me thank goodness. Though I spent hours upon hours practicing while my school buddies were doing Sports.
It was in the early '70s that I really got into Jazz, Jazz Rock, Jazz Fusion and World Music. Seeing Weather Report, Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Larry Carlton, Steely Dan, John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, RTF, Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters, VSOP, Freddie Hubbard and so many, many more amazing artists opened my eyes to the beauty and eloquent nature of Jazz. I really love the brilliant ensemble playing that is in Jazz!!
When I play and write music, it blends so many style together. Many fans ask me why my playing sounds so jazzy. It's because I understand Blue Notes, the phrasing, the tonality, time signatures and more. I can also play Rock, Folk, Soul, R n' B and other styles too. I seem to gravitate more and more as I get older to a jazzier style. Currently I'm 62 years old. I have released 2 CDs world-wide. Working on my 3rd.
I also teach Guitar/Bass/Music Theory to my students. They range from 6 years old to much, much older. (I was hired by the City of Aurora, CO to teach ages 6-13 specifically). Currently I teach 41 children in 5 classes. Additionally another 7 private students.
My wife, Meesh, and I love Jazz dearly. It was one of the things that we share together!
Most of the people that I know today do not get jazz. I try to explain what to listen for, but many times the music of Jazz is a bit much for them. So be it.
In a nutshell, I live, breath and listen to Music 24/7. No TV except the Food Channel and Weather.
I love John Kelman's articles. They are so insightful and well-constructed!
Thank you all for doing what you do.