Tony Scott wasn't a big fan of vibrato. Using it while playing his clarinet would only have smoothed out his sound and landed him in the shadows of Artie Shaw and Buddy DeFranco. Instead, he preferred to stand out with a stripped down and somewhat hoarse, high-register tone. To the uninitiated, Scott can sound a little sour and breathless, like someone who hasn't yet fully mastered the complications of the instrument. But once you've become acclimated to Scott's unusual, dry style, you'll actually crave his textured, uneven delivery. The ear has a funny way of falling in love with imperfection.
If you dig Scott as much as I do, you'll be gratified to learn that Tony Scott: Lost Tapes, Germany 1957 and Asia 1962 (Jazzhaus), an album of previously unreleased Scott material, is out this week. The album features Scott in a studio setting and performing in Stuttgart, Germany, in 1957, and in concert in Hong Kong and Singapore in 1962. These recordings are notable because we get to hear Scott at the height of his Down Beat critics' poll prowess in the late 1950s and in 1962, just before he abandoned jazz for six years to focus on explorations in New Age and World music.
His recordings in Germany with local sidemen are divided among cool and spirited. Ballads like The Man I Love, Lover Come Back to Me and You Go to My Head are haunting in the studio while the live material is uptempo and gripping, notably hyperactive versions of A Night in Tunisia, There Will Never Be Another You and All the Things You Are. The album's last four tracks were recorded live in Asia with Italian musicians. Three of the songs—Blues for Charlie Parker, Hong Kong Jazzclub Blues and All the Things You Are—sizzle with instrumental daring. On Moonlight in Vermont, the last track recorded in Singapore, we hear a gorgeous, patient version of the standard, which makes for a nifty contrast with the album's first track—the exact same tune recorded five years earlier in Germany. Both are sensual and hip.
Following his 1962 live recordings, Scott went off in other musical directions until 1968. During this period, he recorded Music for Zen Meditation (1964), Djanger Bali: Tony Scott and the Indonesian All Stars (1967), Atmospheric Conditions Permitting (1967) and Music for Yoga Meditation and Other Joys (1968). By the time he returned to jazz, the music was no longer the same. Scott died in 2007.
JazzWax tracks: You'll find Tony Scott: Lost Tapes, Germany 1957, Asia 1962 (Jazzhaus) here.
JazzWax clip: Here's The Man I Love from the new Lost Tapes album...