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



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BOBBY SCOTT

Joyful Noises

ÉL RECORDS ACMEM295CD

 

 

  1. Four Solemn Thoughts:

    1. The Word

    2. A Joyful Noise

    3. For Everything A Season

    4. The Meanings

  2. One for Quincy

  3. Little Egypt

  4. Two Dancing Feet

  5. The City of Water

  6. Little Hands, Little Fingers

    Bobby Scott Trio from Bobby Scott Sings the Best of Lerner & Loewe

  1. Wand'rin Star (from Paint Your Wagon)

    Larry Elgart And His Orchestra : The City (music composed by Bobby Scott)

  1. Scheme Street

  2. Quiet Harbour

  3. The Village

  4. Central Park South

  5. Cars and Noise

  6. Dance of Glass and Steel

  7. The Great White Way

  8. Rain and Pavement

  9. On the Drive

  10. Dawn

  11. Rooftop

  12. Columbus Circle at 5AM

  13. Uptown Incident


Bobby Scott Piano (all), vocal (track 10)

Unidentified orchestra (tracks 1-9)

Quincy Jones - Musical Director (tracks 1-9)

Teddy Kotick - Bass (track 10)

Al Levitt - Drums (track 10)

Larry Elgart - Leader, soprano sax, alto sax (tracks 11-23)

Tommy Alfano - Alto sax (tracks 11-23)

Al DeRise, Lew Gluckin, Clyde Reasinger - trumpet (tracks 11-23)

Lucile Lawrence - Harp (tracks 11-23)

Maurice Marks - Drums (tracks 11-23)

Full personnel of Larry Elgart Orchestra not available for tracks 11-23 but include Elgart and those listed after him, above.


One of the drawbacks of being exceptionally gifted across a range of abilities (and several genres) is that ultimately your versatility may count against you. For example, Bobby Scott is missing from the pages of my collection of jazz reference books. He is not alone in that - some of them omit Nina Simone! Scott died of lung cancer in 1990, at the age of 53. His precocious talent when young brought problems in its wake. He was to struggle with alcoholism and marriage problems. He had achieved fame in the world of popular music with the major chart success Chain Gang in the year 1956 . Subsequently, he wrote the musical theme for the Broadway production of Shelagh Delaney's A Taste of Honey. That too became a hit, both as an instrumental number and when lyrics were added, as a song. In 1968, a collaboration with lyricist Bob Russell brought further acclaim with He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother. Also in the popular music field, he produced albums by Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye, arranged and conducted three albums for Bobby Darin and served as singer Dick Haymes' musical director. His jazz credentials included, while still in his teens, working with Louis Prima and the Gene Krupa Quartet. Primarily, he was a pianist but could also play vibes, bass, cello, clarinet and accordion. Subsequently, he was to team up with clarinetist Tony Scott and also to tour with Norman Granz's Jazz at the Philharmonic, where he met and became friends with Lester Young. He intersected the jazz and pop scene of his day and collaborated with many recording stars. Add to this, the composition of three film scores, two symphonies, operas and music for string trios, and you have the complete all-rounder.

This CD harks back, for the most part, to the early 1960s. There is one track, Wand'rin Star, featuring Scott's own trio, which dates from a Lerner and Loewe show tune album recorded in 1958. The vocal on this locates him somewhere in the Chet Baker range as a jazz singer, nearer the traditional crooner than anything else. His own compositions and piano feature on the rest of the album which begins with a set originally released under the title Joyful Noises. My particular favourite in this opening segment was A Joyful Noise where Scott does indeed hit some joyful notes. Ragtime, blues and downright modern jazz piano can all be heard in his playing, while the orchestra, uncredited unfortunately, contributes appropriately fiery jazz textures, big band style. I also found One for Quincy, dedicated to the great Quincy Jones, MD for the session, very accessible, with a catchy theme complemented by Scott's nimble and groovy piano. Following Wand'rin Star, the Larry Elgart Orchestra present a rendition of Bobby Scott's suggestive tone poem on New York, The City, composed especially for Elgart and his musicians. Elgart was initially a co-leader of the orchestra with his brother Les but when Les left for California, saxophonist Larry took over and led a band which still is remembered affectionately by devotees.

My preference in The City is for those numbers where the orchestra gets the chance to let rip. When that happens, an authentic big band sound emerges. So, for instance, on The Village there is strong ensemble playing, together with impressive contributions from Scott on piano and Elgart on soprano sax. Dance of Glass and Steel contains passages with genuine swing, aided and abetted by the muted trumpet of Lew Gluckin. The Great White Way is a stylish and evocative tribute to Broadway. Rooftop has Scott on vigorous form and once more, the band manage to slip their leash a little. Some have suggested an Ellington flavour to parts of this disc. My own view is that it owes more to George Gershwin or Leonard Bernstein. The reality is that many of the tracks feel like either mood music or as if they had been written for the cinema. What lifts them above such categorisation are those moments when Bobby Scott makes his vibrant entrance on piano and often transforms what is basically orchestral music into something altogether more jazz-inspired.

Scott was an intelligent and literate man. I'm indebted to the liner notes for two quotes. The first is from Scott himself. 'Like all good things, jazz is inherently at odds with what is around it. Like philosophy, it contends for ears and hearts and minds. It will never rule for its nature is to subvert.' The second is from Don Gold's original sleeve note for Joyful Noises. He writes about Scott : ' some of his music utilises jazz devices, but moves closer toward the realm of Third Stream music - or even contemporary classical lines - than it does toward the hardcore of modern jazz.' It's been an intriguing experience to listen to someone of such extravagant gifts and to conclude, rather than regretting what might have been, we should be thankful for what there was.

James Poore



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