Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy!
This week we feature one of my favorite artists who recently turned 70. Tom Scott is one of the most popular, successful and talented saxophone players ever.
His resume is lengthy and impressive. Scott is a well-known composer, arranger, producer, musical director and saxophonist. He’s earned three Grammy Awards and thirteen Grammy nominations.
Here are just some of the recordings he’s performed on as a studio musician:
Rise (Herb Alpert)
You’re Only Lonely (John David Souther)
Kind of Hush (The Carpenters)
Nadia’s Theme/The Young & The Restless) (Barry de Vorzon)
Listen To What the Man Said (Paul McCartney and Wings)
It Never Rains in So. Calif. (Albert Hammond)
Jazzman (Single-Carole King)
One Less Bell To Answer (5th Dimension)
Hawaii Five-0 (The Ventures)
Classical Gas (Mason Williams)
That’s not all. Scott has composed numerous film scores, among them Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, Uptown Saturday Night, Stir Crazy, Hanky Panky, The Sure Thing, Just One Of The Guys, Soul Man and Shakes the Clown. His television composing and conducting credits include themes for Family Ties, Starsky & Hutch, Square Pegs and background scores for Baretta, Cannon, Barnaby Jones, Streets Of San Francisco, and numerous T.V. Specials and Network Movies. He has served as Musical Director for the Academy Awards, the Emmy Awards, the Celebration At Ford’s Theater, the People’s Choice Awards, Comic Relief, the Carol Burnett Show, the Pat Sajak Show, Joni Mitchell, George Harrison, and Olivia Newton-John.
And in addition to all that, he’s released a slew of solo albums. We’ll sample some of Scott’s large body of work in this installment, so let’s get started.
During the 70’s Scott led a band called “The L.A. Express” that hammered out a distinct jazz-funk-R&B sound.
This is the title track of an album released in 1975, Scott’s last with the band before he left to truly go solo.
From a 2009 interview:
“I started on the clarinet when I was about 8 years old. Although my father was a composer for film and television, he didn’t push me. The person who pushed me was the orchestra music teacher at my elementary school.
“She went around to the various 4th grade classes to recruit new members for the orchestra. The bait for me was that the orchestra rehearsed on Wednesday mornings. You could get out of the class the first half of Wednesday. The other lure was that you could rent an instrument from the school for something like $5 per semester. She gave us a list of all the instruments – trumpet, trombone, clarinet, violin, viola, cello, bass and all these things to choose.
“I went home and discussed it with my dad. I really didn’t have any musical direction at the time. Elvis Presley and rock and roll were popular during that era. My dad on the other hand suggested that I play the clarinet. This way if I ever wanted to branch out to saxophone later, I would have a great foundation.”
This album was released in 1973.
What I love about this selection is you don’t have to wail and screech and scream to provide good sax.
Let’s go back to that 2009 interview:
“When I think of some of the things that I did in the past, certainly some of it was not music that I particularly liked. I wasn’t that crass about it in my mind. I knew I was going to play horn arrangements with these fabulous horn players and we were just going to nail it. Playing on sessions is something that sometimes transcends the artist. I played on all the Partridge Family records.
“Oh yeah, but the sessions were great. We used to do funny things during the breaks and all that. Those were the days. It was like a big party but all the musicians played great. Nobody ever stumbled.”
Time to really slow it down with a smooth, sultry number, maybe best played when the lights are low.
Next, from 1976, a track that one online reviewer compared to the classical music piece made famous in the movie “10.” Of course, that would be Ravel’s “Bolero.”
Both “Bolero” and this next tune according to the reviewer had a progression of cascading notes and rhythm that built to a crescendo.
I’m not so sure. See what you think.
“Let me put it this way, there’s an upside and a downside to everything. Being on tour is not so great because you’re living out of a suitcase for a long time. But when you get to play for people all over the country and get their appreciation … that’s the fun part.
“The film score thing, it’s great fun; it’s a tremendous amount of pressure, film more than television. … When a film company is betting several million dollars on something, you can feel the pressure.
“And making records is a joy, but of course you’ve got to have something to say …. all things considered, I’ve had a marvelous, marvelous career and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
Tom Scott in 2007.
That’s it for this week.
Have a great weekend.
We close with one of Scott’s TV theme compositions.