Legendary saxman Tom Scott is ready to bring the funk to O.C.

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Photo taken from alchetron.com

Grammy Award-winning iconic saxophonist, composer and arranger Tom Scott is coming to Orange County to perform his countless hits with his celebrated band the L.A. Express on Feb. 27.

Performing at Irvine Barclay Theatre, Scott said he plans to provide the audience “with a dynamic and entertaining evening combining jazz, funk, and new versions of classic popular songs.” With over 30 solo recordings and over 500 as a guest artist, the saxman has garnered three Grammy Awards and 14 nominations and has worked with such diverse artists as Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Carol King, Paul McCartney, the Blues Brothers and Steely Dan.

The aptitude for music runs strong in the Scott family — Scott’s father, film and television composer Nathan Scott, had over 700 television credits and more than 100 film credits as a composer, orchestrator, and conductor, including the theme songs for “Lassie” and “Dragnet.”

We had the honor to chat with the music legend before his stop in O.C.

With your father being a notable composer, how did that inspire your own career in music?

Dad was a great film and TV composer with over 700 credits. There was always a room where we lived (the dining room at first, later a separate studio behind the house) where he would be busy composing with an upright piano, a drafting table and score paper. It’s not that he taught me music directly, but when, in the fourth grade, I wanted to play the clarinet in elementary school, he paid for lessons by one of L.A.’s finest woodwind players. He also introduced me to jazz; he bought me a Benny Goodman Carnegie Hall concert recording from 1938 — 10 years before I was born. I wore that record out trying to imitate Benny on my student model clarinet. 

Upon entering junior high, now they call it ‘middle school’, I took the only chair available in the sax section — the baritone sax. My Dad, once again wanting me to hear the ‘best’ on that instrument, presented me with a Gerry Mulligan record, which I also wore out. He was always so supportive, but he didn’t have to work too hard to keep me interested — by that time I was thoroughly hooked on jazz.

Do you have a favorite memory of witnessing your father’s writing process that has influenced your own process?

As a composer, Dad was a perfectionist. His scores, written in pencil, always looked like artwork.  Although I never attained that level of neatness, he taught me to provide as much clarity to the players as possible. That includes not only the notes themselves, but also the dynamics and articulations that tell the players what to do on the very first rehearsal.

Which film or television score of yours in particular do you most treasure, and why? 

I especially enjoyed composing the score for “Conquest of the Planet of the Apes” (1972).  I was inspired to build an instrument for the film — a ‘Bass Dakadebello’, a kind of large African marimba that was effective in providing the sound for a bunch of enslaved apes being taught how to serve their cruel masters.  

You have accompanied some of the biggest names in music. Is there someone that you feel would be a dream to work with that you haven’t yet?

That’s a difficult question. Having had the privilege of working with so many pop and jazz icons, over 500 recordings, I feel so blessed already.  

Soloist versus bandleader: if you could only choose one to perform live for the rest of your life, which would you choose?

Definitely bandleader. All I ever wanted to do was play with great musicians. The ‘soloist’ thing is nice, but the real fun for me is the musical interaction with other great players.

Where are your Grammy Awards currently?

I just moved, so currently they are sitting in a box in the garage!

Are there any special projects you are currently working on that you would like to share? 

Yes — I’m currently working on a project for Jack Jones — he’s 82 years young! I’m also creating the music for a new L.A. Express CD project entitled “Back On Track.” In addition, I’m adding to the curriculum for my third year on the faculty of the New York University Summer Jazz Program.

Tom Scott & the L.A. Express

When: Thursday, February 27, 2020 at 8pm

More info: https://www.thebarclay.org/buy-tickets/tom-scott-the-la-express.html


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Jackie Moe is a professional entertainment reporter and magazine editor who lives for live music, spaghetti or beef ribs, long distance running, and good stories. Working as a features reporter for major newspaper publications Orange County Register, Press-Enterprise and Los Angeles Times, and as an editor for a variety of magazines including Inland Empire Magazine and Parenting OC, she recognized the need for quality digital coverage for all of the truly fascinating people and events in and around Orange County. She created Backstage SoCal in 2017 to provide unique entertainment content beyond the general calendar items. You may contact her directly on her social media or email: socalnewsjackie@gmail.com

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