Scott, Tony (originally, Sciacca, Anthony)

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Scott, Tony (originally, Sciacca, Anthony)

Scott, Tony (originally, Sciacca, Anthony), jazz clarinetist, saxophonist, flutist, pianist, guitarist; b. Morristown, N.J., June 17, 1921. His father was a barber; both parents enjoyed playing the violin. He studied clarinet and piano at Juilliard from 1940–42, and started jamming at Minton’s in 1941; he caused some antagonism among the other musicians by his habit of jumping up on stage without asking permission. Scott spent three years in army bands (1942–45) and, after leaving the service, worked with Tommy Dorsey, Charlie Ventura, Claude Thornhill, and Earl Bostic, among others. He was befriended by Ben Webster, who influenced his big sound and was an early fan of Charlie Parker’s. In the early 1950s, Scott led a quartet at Minton’s and the Metropole; in 1953 he was voted the Down Beat Critics’ Poll “New Star” on clarinet, and he began to record more as a leader. He took lessons with composer Stefan Wolpe, the fruits of which are heard on his compositions “Portrait of Anne Frank” and “Piece for Stefan Wolpe” (1959). During this period, he worked with Billie Holiday (1954, 1956), Carmen McRae, and Sarah Vaughan (1946, 1950) and spent a month in Ellington’s orch. He became Harry Belafonte’s pianist and musical director (1955), touring the world with him in 1957. He was an early booster of pianist Bill Evans, using him on a number of recordings beginning in 1956. hi late 1959, he went to Japan, and then studied Eastern musics for several years, visiting Bali (where he played with a traditional orch.), Malaysia, Thailand (where he played with the king, a noted jazz patron and saxophonist), and India. In 1964, he recorded Music for Zen Meditation with a koto and shakuhachi player in Tokyo, an albun that became a cult favorite. In July 1965 he returned to N.Y. and began a 15-month residency at the Dom, an East Village club. He left for Europe in 1968. He has been based in Rome since the early 1970s and occasionally performs at European festivals. He has recorded with Indonesian groups, on an album paying homage to Africa, and on several more meditation albums.


Music After Midnight (1953); Tony Scott Quartet (1954); Jazz for Gls: Tony Scott and Mat Mathews (1954); Tony Scott (1955); Scoff’s Fling (1955); That’s How I’m Living (1955); Both Sides of Tony Scott (1956); Touch of Tony Scott (1956); In Concert (1957); The Modern Art of Jazz (1957); Tony Scott in Hi Fi (1957); Dedications (1957); South Pacific Jazz (1958); 52nd Street Scene (1958); Free Blown Jazz (1959); I’ll Remember (1959); Sung Heroes (1959); Hi Fi Land of Jazz (1959); Golden Moments (1959); Gypsy (1959); My Kind of Jazz (1960); Music for Zen Meditation & Other Joys (1964); Music for Yoga Meditation and Other Joys (1967); Homage to Lord Krishna (1969); Prism (1977); African Bird: Come Back! Mother Africa (1981); Meditation (1984); Astral Meditation (1988); Clarinet Album (1994); Dialog with Myself: Like a Child’s Whisper (1995); In Africa (1997); Homage to Billie Holiday: Body & Soul (1998); Homage to a Lady (1998); Poets of Jazz (1998); At Last (1999).

—Matthew Snyder/Lewis Porter

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Scott, Tony (originally, Sciacca, Anthony)

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