Saturday, September 13, 2014

Tony Scott - The Lost Tapes on JazzHaus

© -  Steven A. Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

“Tony Scott's position as a master of his instrument has never been in question, but it was that instrument's own status which bebop and after was disputing, and [his many] excellent records … have been comparatively lost as a result. ...

In 1959 Tony Scott turned his back on America, wounded by the death of several friends (Hot Lips Page, Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker, Lester Young) and by what he considered the 'death' of the clarinet in jazz terms. Since then he has been a wanderer, exploring the culture and music of the East, trading in the sometimes aggressive assertions of bebop for a meditative approach to harmony that at its best is deeply moving, at its least disciplined a weak ambient decoration.

Influenced primarily by Ben Webster, he seems to condense and process an enormous acreage of jazz history in his enticingly miniaturist structures.

Scott enjoyed a close and fruitful relationship with Bill Evans, and perhaps his best recorded work is the session of 16 November 1957 with the Evans trio and guests, tackling a copious roster of originals and well-worn standards…. . Evans's light touch and immense harmonic sophistication suited his approach ideally. Scott was at the top of his professional tree and enjoyed great critical acclaim. More recent years have found him a relatively forgotten figure. But he is unmistakably an original.”
Richard Cook and Brian Morton, The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD, 6th Ed.

The recent arrival of the Tony Scott - The Lost Tapes: Germany 1957/Asia 1962 JazzHaus CD [#101 743] sparked a number of flashbacks in my mind to a time when Tony along with Buddy DeFranco were two of the hipper clarinetists on the modern Jazz scene.

Unfortunately for Tony and Buddy and a few other “licorice stick” players who spoke the language of bebop, their recognition for this achievement would be short-lived as interest in the instrument waned by the end of the 1950’s.

Once the equivalent of the Rock guitar during The Swing Era when clarinet players like Benny Goodman, Woody Herman and Artie Shaw headed-up some of the most popular big bands, the clarinet fell out of favor in the modern Jazz era which began around 1945 when small combos featuring trumpet and saxophone front lines became the predominant sound of the music.

Here are the details on Tony Scott - The Lost Tapes: Germany 1957/Asia 1962 JazzHaus CD [#101 743] and Fabian Grob’s insert notes to the disc.

Studio Recording Villa Berg, SDR Stuttgart April 24,1957
Live Recording Liederhalle Stuttgart, April 23,1957
Live Recording City Hall, Hong Kong, spring 1962 Live Recording Singapore, unknown venue, 1962

Tony Scott (cl) / Horst Jankowski (p) / Peter Witte (b) / Hermann Mutschler (dr) / Conny Jackel (tp) / Gerald Weinkopf (ts) / Helmut Brandt (bs) /Werner Baumgart (bs) / Mario Costalonga (tp) / Colin Stuart (tp) / Frankie Van Seca (g) / Giancarlo Barigozzi (ts)

For the Singapore recording: (probably) Silvano Salviati (p) / Sandra Paganucci (b) /Alfredo Bendini (dr)

Moonlight In Vermont (Stuttgart)         
The Man I Love                                   
Lover, Come Back To Me                      
You Go To My Head                              
A Night In Tunisia
There Will Never Be Another You
Blues For Charlie Parker
Hongkong Jazzclub Blues
All The Things You Are
Moonlight In Vermont (Singapore)

Ben and Bird

Both Sides Of Tony Scott is the title of an LP the clarinettist recorded in 1956 following a period of artistic reflection. For the previous nine months, as Harry Belafonte's musical director, Scott had not touched his instrument. Now he used the occasion to concentrate on his two principal role models: Charlie Parker, whose polyrhythmic playing and asymmetric phrasing fascinated him, and Ben Webster, who had taken him under his wing as a young musician and whose emotional, melodious ballad playing had inspired him to adopt the same unusually warm and gentle tone on the clarinet Both sides came across significantly in Scott's playing: the thin, brittle, almost shrill tone of his virtuoso, uptempo bebop lines contrasted with the inimitable intimacy and warmth of his legato ballad style, a sound Scott literally breathed into the clarinet unlike anyone.

The two approaches are equally characteristic of the recordings Scott made in April 1957 as a guest at the Stuttgart radio broadcaster SDR, as well as the live performances recorded for posterity by Joachim-Ernst Berendt on behalf of SWF in Hong Kong and Singapore in 1962 under far from ideal conditions- using a portable tape recorder and a single microphone. Despite certain acoustic deficiencies, most notably audible on the track from Singapore, these recordings are deserving of our attention as rare testimony to a hitherto little documented phase in Scott's career.”

As you may recall from others postings about this series, JazzHaus will bring forth audio and video discs featuring “an indefinite number of audio and video jazz programs taken from live radio and television recordings from the archives of Sudwestrundfunk Stuttgart, Baden-Baden and Mainz in southwest Germany.

Jazz broadcasts by Sudwestrundfunk (SWR) started in the summer of 1947 with young impresarios Joachim-Ernst Berendt and Dieter Zimmerle. Today, almost 65 years later, the archives contain about 1,600 audio and more than 350 television recordings of all major modern jazz artists - probably the biggest collection of unpublished live jazz recordings in the world: 3,000 hours - and almost all of it has never been released before. More than 400 ensembles and soloists are listed - many of them recorded three, four, five or more times over the decades.

For the last three years, the JAZZHAUS team has been thoroughly researching the vaults, carefully making the final selections. The old tapes are currently being re-mastered to high-end technology standards and will be released on CD, DVD, vinyl, and as audio /video-on-demand downloads.”

In the introductory quotation to this feature, Cook and Morton refer to November 16, 1957 and the recordings that Tony made with Bill Evans. Actually, Tony made twenty-four - 24! - recordings on that single day, some with a trio made up of Bill on piano and either Henry Grimes or Milt Hinton on bass and Paul Motian on drums and others with that rhythm section added to tracks that were recorded with Clark Terry on trumpet, Jimmy Knepper on trombone and Sahib Shihab on baritone saxophone.

All of these have been collected and re-issued on a 2-CD set entitled A Day In New York [Fresh Sound Records FSR CD-160/1-160/2]. The set contains this excellent overview of by Mike Baillie’s description of Tony’s career before and after these recordings were made.

© -  Mike Baillie/Fresh Sound Records, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

Tony Scott - with Bill Evans

“Born Anthony Sciacca in Morristown, New Jersey in 1921, Scott was the first clarinet player to transcribe the startlingly new musical ideas of Charlie Parker, thereby changing the role of the instrument away from its (literally) traditional New Orleans function, and the «swing» style originated by Benny Goodman. In fact Scott to this day remains totally loyal to Bird's musical concepts, and sincerely feels that Parker continues to be his mentor and inspiration. During an interview here in Barcelona some three years ago, he said: «The motivation behind me is that every note I play is from him.»

After attending Juilliard musical college in New York City, Scott was an extremely active and familiar figure on 52nd Street in the 40's, «the proving ground for bop», as he himself put it. He'd go from one club to another, and sit in and jam with anybody, most frequently with black musicians —Roy Eldridge, Don Byas, Ben Webster, Erroll Garner, Stuff Smith— even Charlie Parker, for Scott was that self-confident. «l'd blow from joint to joint» he told Downbeat magazine, but to make a serious living as a musician he took jobs with big bands (usually white) such as Claude Thornhill's or Charlie Ventura's, though one memorable month was spent on tour with Duke Ellington. Scott's very first recording was in 1947, and the date included not only Dizzy Gillespie and Ben Webster, but Sarah Vaughan, who sang on one of the three titles made that day.

From '55-'59 Tony Scott was the Number One on clarinet, and enjoyed considerable fame, having been awarded top clarinet honours by the Downbeat International Jazz Critics' poll, as well as winning Downbeat's «New star on baritone sax». He was offered a 3-month State Department tour of Israel, fronting a big band, but refused on grounds of conscience for the compromises he knew he'd have to make.

Furthermore, RCA Victor was quite prepared to back him financially and with a full-scale exploitation campaign, but because he wouldn't bow to their commercial insistences, he declined —in spite of the nine months he'd spent as Harry Belafonte's musical director at RCA, when that singer was then enormously popular and a huge commercial success.

No, Scott preferred the freedom to play and blow wherever and whenever he wanted. He claims to be the first person to have used pianists Dick Hyman and Bill Evans, and for Billie Holiday he is proud to have procured Bobby Tucker (a friend of Scott's from high school days), who was to remain with Lady Day for a long time as her accompanist.

Scott's sincerely held belief is that improvisation is the very essence of good jazz, and he himself has always been a totally committed jazz player, with absolutely no qualms about airing his often very outspoken views, particularly on matters of race. He anticipated the Free Jazz of the 1960's, Indo-Jazz fusions and the incorporation of ethnic music into the (jazz) music of the 1980's. (He can also play the loudest clarinet I've ever heard - yet so softly and quietly too that one can «hear the wood» of the instrument).

By 1959, thoroughly disillusioned with the jazz scene in America, he decided to take himself off to the Far East in search of musical and spiritual refreshment. By doing so he became the first modern American jazz musician to play in Japan, and he toured extensively —Formosa, Hong Kong, The Philippines, Indonesia, Malaya, Bali, Thailand and Singapore. He finally returned to the U.S.A. some six years later with a new (and oriental) wife.

At the time the recordings on this album were made he showed a preference for fairly straightforward material, or standards, and his music could really catch fire when the company was compatible. He also liked the swinging-blowing-type atmosphere, where there is plenty of freedom for the soloists, and the general feeling «loose», and this collection certainly fits into that category. Scott himself is composer of no less than ten of the pieces played, more in the nature of sketches or outlines really, and at least two would seem to be improvised variations on «Bernie's tune». Bill Evans contributes one, the very enjoyable «Five», while the remainder are a mixture of better and lesser-known standards.

The combinations of musicians used vary from track to track, which makes for some very stimulating listening.

It is also revealing to note that a staggering twenty-four titles were recorded on one single day - a truly remarkable achievement, considering the high quality of the music, and the level of imagination and inventiveness shown by his sidemen-cum-friends. (The brilliant Jimmy Knepper was his favourite trombone player and is heavily featured here, Clark Terry a buddy from military days spent together, Milt Hinton a colleague from the 52nd Street jam sessions, and the young Bill Evans had been first snapped up by Scott immediately after finishing his military service. Knepper was later voted New Star on trombone in the '58-'59 Downbeat International Critics' poll, while Evans was voted New Star on piano, and whose playing here gives hints of things to come.)  Tony Scott certainly knew how to pick 'em, and to have such a diverse set on one album is riches indeed.

Scott became in later years very much the loner [Tony died in 2007], a kind of wandering jazz troubadour playing all over Europe, with Italy the home base for his gypsy lifestyle. He is still a fascinating and provocative musician, and, travelling light (with the prized photos he himself took of Billie Holiday always in his knapsack), he cuts a most remarkable figure. On these recordings we can hear him again at a peak moment in his life. - Mike Baillie - 1991”

Since these newly released JazzHaus “Lost Tapes” were recorded primarily in 1957, we now have more of Tony at his peak to savor and enjoy.

Tony Scott was one of the true original voices in Jazz and these recordings are a credit to his legacy.

The following video features Tony performing The Man I Love from Tony Scott - The Lost Tapes: Germany 1957/Asia 1962 JazzHaus CD [#101 743] with Horst Jankowski on piano, Peter Witte on bass and Hermann Mutschler on drums.

1 comment:

  1. Steve, this is very welcome piece on a great jazz musician. I was a friend and admirer of Tony Scott ever since he toured South Africa on his historical and ground-breaking tour in 1957. I took him back to my house for dinner while he was in Cape Town. He was surprised to find a kid who knew everything about his music, and had all of his records. My first published work as a teenager writer was a lengthy report on his visit in METRONOME MAGAZINE, December, 1957. (This article used to be archived on his website). Tony and I corresponded over the years, but we never met again. My last email from him was just a few months before he died in March 2007. He was certainly a unique personality, irascible, dedicated, great sense of humor, and enormous interest in social justice. He also became a devout follower of Eastern meditation, and recorded several albums in that vein. He took great pride in his Italian heritage, and pointed out to me on several occasions that both both he and Buddy DeFranco were Italians because "playing the clarinet well required great passion." For fifty years he was an integral part of the background of my life, and I miss him. Garth Jowett.


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