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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Early Sessions

Fresh Sound FSR-CD 686



Great Scott
1. Pee Wee
2. Phil's Mood
3. Moonbeaux
4. Tenderly
5. Ode to Monk
6. Polka Dots and Moonbeams
7. Gone with the Wind
8. Lullaby of Birdland
Bobby Scott
9. Just One of Those Things
10. But Beautiful
11. Once in a While
12. I Married an Angel
Scott Free
13. Two Toes
14. What's New
15. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
16. Summer Night
17. Over the Rainbow
18. Squaw Rock
19. Potatoe Zalud
20. These Foolish Things
21. Milt Shake
22. Skyline
23. Richard the Lion Hearted
Bobby Scott - Piano, vibes
Whitey Mitchell - Bass (tracks 1-8)
Will Bradley Jr. - Drums (tracks 1-8)
Jim Corbett - Bass (tracks 9-12)
Al Levitt - Drums (tracks 9-23)
Nabil "Knobby" Totah - Bass (tracks 13-23)


Bobby Scott was a teenage prodigy who made the first recordings on this album when he was only 17 years old. The album Great Scott was his debut and showed how he was already a very complete pianist. Yet you may not have heard of him, even though you'll probably know his compositions A Taste of Honey and He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother.

Despite his early promise as a pianist, playing with such people as Louis Prima and Gene Krupa, Bobby tended to wander down several other career paths: singing, arranging and teaching. But he also performed on the clarinet, accordion, cello and bass, so you might say that he diversified his talents too widely to establish himself firmly in people's minds as a pianist.

These tracks - from 1954 and 1955 - display his enviable technique and a style comparable to Bud Powell in its feverish swing and concentration on the right hand. This album also illustrates his talents as a composer. He wrote half the tunes on the first LP, among which are the bluesy Phil's Mood and the Thelonious-like Ode to Monk. The opening chords of Polka Dots and Moonbeams reveal a questing spirit, and his version of Lullaby of Birdland is like a Jacques Loussier reworking of Bach. Bobby's accompanists on this LP had notable relations: Whitey Mitchell being the brother of bassist Red Mitchell, and Will Bradley Jr. being the son of a famous trombonist-cum-bandleader.

The Second disc, Bobby Scott, only has four tracks on it but they hint at the variety that Bobby could get into his playing. He even does an Erroll Garner on Once in a While, and there are several George Shearing-like locked-hands episodes.

Bobby wrote five of the pieces in Scott Free, with Two Toes exhibiting his intensity and Potatoe Zalud a good example of his melodic invention. Several tracks show his ability on the vibraphone, where he was clearly influenced by Milt Jackson (try Milt Shake, which is very like the Modern Jazz Quartet). Despite the promise revealed in these early recordings, Bobby spent much of the 1960s working with Quincy Jones as arranger and accompanist - you might say, hiding his light under a bushel. That's probably why he isn't better known today.

Tony Augarde

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