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Jazz Remembered


Tony Scott by



Tony Scott


Trombonist Mel Henry suggests that we take some time out to remember Tony Scott. Mel Henry recalls the occasion when he jammed with Tony Scott:

'It was a long time ago. In the early '70s I used to hang out at the old 606 Club which was a smoky little subterranean den at 606 Old Kings Road. The format was totally informal, just a place where the guys would jam until very late. One night a weird bloke and his mate Tony Scott with Charlie Parkerdropped in. He was bearded, totally shaven head, and dressed all in black. I was particularly impressed by his neck chain with a little horn (cornicello ). His friend said he was Ian Henry – no relation, but coincidentally, like myself, a former doctor. The guy in black was Tony Scott, THE Tony Scott, who shared an apartment with Charlie Parker for a year. I asked to sit in with them, and we played some remarkable music for a few numbers. Ian Henry was seriously good on the club’s beat-up old piano, and Scott was sensational – the loudest clarinettist I’d ever heard (including Sandy Brown ). A night to remember.'

Tony Scott was born Anthony Joseph Sciacca in Morristown, New Jersey, in 1921. He attended Juilliard School from 1940 to 1942 and in the 1950s he worked with Sarah Vaughan and Billie Holiday. He also had a young Bill Evans and Paul Motian as side-men on several albums released between 1957 and 1959. In the late 1950s he won on four occasions the Down Beat critics poll for clarinettist in 1955, 1957, 1958 and 1959.


In this video from 1958 Tony is playing Blues For An African Friend with Billy Taylor (piano), Earl May (bass), Ed Thigpen (drums), Doc Severinsen (trumpet), Jimmy Cleveland (trombone), and Mundell Lowe (guitar).




Wikipedia helps us with the story: 'Tony was known for a more "cool" style on the instrument than his peer Buddy DeFranco who often played a more aggressive bebop style. Despite this he remained relatively little-known as the clarinet had been in eclipse in jazz since the emergence of bebop. In 1959 he left New York City, where he had been based, and abandoned the United States for a time. In the 1960s he toured South, East, and Southeast Asia. This led to his playing in a Hindu temple, spending time in Japan, and releasing Music for Zen Meditation in 1964 for Verve Records. In 1960 a Down Beat poll for Japan saw readers there name him best clarinetist while the United States preferred Buddy DeFranco. Tony did a Japanese special on Buddhism and Jazz, although he continued to work with American jazz musicians and played at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1965. In the years following that he worked in Germany, Africa, and at times in South America.'

Here is a video of Tony introducing and playing Blues For Charlie Parker in Prague in 1968 - [there are a number of other videos from that gig on YouTube which also featured Sandy Brown in a later section]




'He settled in Italy in the 1970s, working with Italian jazz musicians such as Franco D'Andrea and Romano Mussolini. He also played the part of a Sicilian-American Mafia boss in Glauber Rocha's film Claro (1975).'

By the mid-1970s Tony had grown the beard Mel Henry remembers - this brief video has Tony with guitarist Franco Cerri and Scat in 1977:




In later years he began showing an interest in Electronica and in 2002 his Hare Krishna was remixed by King Britt as a contribution to Verve Remixed.'

This very brief video from 2006 has Tony with the band Kneebody playing Caravan and with Tony starting to talk about 'jazz' before the video cuts out:




Tony Scott died of prostate cancer in Rome in 2007 at the age of 85.

In 2010, a documentary film by the Italian director Franco Maresco about the life of Tony Scott was released titled Io sono Tony Scott, ovvero come l'Italia fece fuori il più grande clarinettista del jazz (English: I am Tony Scott. The Story of How Italy Got Rid of the Greatest Jazz Clarinetist). The film is available here (2 hrs 8 mins) The commentary is in Italian but also has Tony speaking in English.

In 2018 the Erodot Project played this lovely Blues For Tony Scott videod at the Auditorium Parco della Musica with Chiara Salvati (dance), Bob Salmieri (tenor sax), daf Alessandro de Angelis (piano), Marco Loddo (double bass), Giampaolo Scatozza (drums) and Carlo Colombo (percussion).




But perhaps we can end this brief memory of Tony Scott by rewinding back to 1956 and listen to Tony's Orchestra backing Billie Holiday and Some Other Spring recorded in New York City. The players here are Charlie Shavers (trumpet), Tony Scott (clarinet, arranger), Paul Quinichette (tenor saxophone), Wynton Kelly (piano), Kenny Burrell (guitar), Aaron Bell (bass) and Lenny McBrowne (drums):






Tony Scott



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