Tony Scott: New York, 1953 - JazzWax

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May 17, 2012


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Jon Foley

I got to hear Tony only once in person, sometime in the '60s at Slug's in the East Village in NYC. If my memory serves, he had Jaki Byard on piano, Milt Hinton on bass and Rashied Ali on drums - how's that for a mixture of styles!
There's some excellent playing by him on Mundell Lowe's "TV Action Jazz," and you also get to hear him on baritone sax, his second instrument. If that's not enough, that record also features some astounding piano playing by the late Eddie Costa.


I saw Scott in Montreux, and several times in Italy. At that point in his career (1972), he was still dedicated to pushing a few boundaries musically. Unfortunately, he seemed to think he was THE guy to be on stage, and slapped all his musicians on the back while they were playing, smiling all the while. This was disconcerting not only to me, but to the musicians. Imagine playing trumpet and suddenly you are slapped on the back. You should've seen the face of the trumpet player. (I can't remember his name, but if memory serves, he was Ethiopian). I rather enjoyed the '4th world' music, however, and still believe he was a progenitor of the genre.

Bill Kirchner

I heard Tony Scott in the '80s at the Jazz Forum in NYC. He was playing a shrieking version of "Yesterdays" while jerking up and down at the waist. It was the loudest clarinet playing I've ever heard.

T.K. Tortch

"Tony Scott is an acquired taste, much like squid-ink pasta or amaro."

Ha!! That's got to be one of the best qualifications on outright praise ever. Enough info to know there's something squirrelly about the guy, nasty enough sounding to get you interested.

Mike Ukranski

Mouth-watering praise indeed. There's also an Italian TV documentary about Tony titled Io sono Tony Scott, ovvero come l'Italia fece fuori il più grande clarinettista del jazz, translated: I am Tony Scott. The Story of How Italy Got Rid of the Greatest Jazz Clarinetist. Well, was he?

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of a Song" (Grove) and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax is a two-time winner of the Jazz Journalists Association's best blog award.

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