A native of Southern California, Tom Scott was indoctrinated into the L.A. music scene early on. His father, film composer Nathan Scott composed music for the famous series Dragnet. It was in this fertile breeding ground that Tom grew up listening to music and emulating the players he loved. Referring to his early years, Tom admits, “I was obsessed with music and everything about it.” This thirst for knowledge as well as his confidence and ability helped carve out a very enviable niche in what is a very competitive business.
We started the interview on a Wednesday evening while the Grammy Awards were on television. Tom was at home watching the East Coast feed 3 hours early while we conducted the interview. I got the sense that this type of multi-tasking is very common for a busy guy like Tom – read on!
Tom Scott: Let me turn these Grammys down.
Skip: Ah, you ARE watching.
Tom, I have had the great pleasure of interviewing many fine saxophonists over the years. You’re the biggest fish I’ve caught so far, so to speak…
…As you troll your way through the music river. (Laughs)
I probably became aware of your playing back in the late seventies. Since speaking with you the other day, I’ve been trying to do some research regarding Tom Scott’s career as of late. Perhaps we can focus on what you’ve got on the table right now as well as your early days growing up in L.A.
I’m very excited about the release of my new CD project Bebop United. It’s straight-ahead jazz. I’m not sure if it’s bop in the strictest sense but its straight-ahead jazz with five horns, piano, bass and drums. I wrote all the arrangements and some of the compositions are mine. There's a Chick Corea tune and a Wayne Shorter tune and some others. I’m very proud of it. It features legendary sax player Phil Woods, Ron Cuber, Jay Ashby, Randy Brecker, Gil Goldstein and myself.
Many of your admirers are more familiar with the R&B side of Tom Scott’s saxophone playing. Were you initially influenced by bop and straight-ahead jazz?
Oh yeah. Listen. When I was growing up as a teenager that’s what there was. There was no so-called fusion or contemporary jazz at that time. I considered there to be a sort of “holy trinity” of jazz – Miles Davis, Cannonball Adderley and John Coltrane. I just bathed myself in their music during that incredibly musical period for them. It was that period from around 1958 through the early sixties when they did Kind of Blue, Milestones and some other fantastic records.
You cut your teeth on those records when you were young?
Absolutely. I started on the clarinet when I was about 8 years old. Although my father was a composer for film and television, he didn’t push me. The person who pushed me was the orchestra music teacher at my elementary school.
She pushed you to play the clarinet or to progress in general?
She went around to the various 4th grade classes to recruit new members for the orchestra. The bait for me was that the orchestra rehearsed on Wednesday mornings. You could get out of the class the first half of Wednesday. The other lure was that you could rent an instrument from the school for something like $5 per semester. She gave us a list of all the instruments – trumpet, trombone, clarinet, violin, viola, cello, bass and all these things to choose. I went home and discussed it with my dad. I really didn’t have any musical direction at the time. Elvis Presley and rock and roll were popular during that era. My dad on the other hand suggested that I play the clarinet. This way if I ever wanted to branch out to saxophone later, I would have a great foundation.
That was great advice then. It’s great advice now.
It sure was. It’s great advice anytime.
The clarinet is really a wonderful instrument. If you’re going to be a doubler, I would strongly recommend that you start on the clarinet first. Let’s put it this way. You would face much more of an uphill struggle to start on the saxophone first and then decide that you want to learn the clarinet.
You grew up in The Valley outside L.A.?
I did. I went to Riverside Drive Elementary School between Coldwater Canyon and North Hollywood, California.
When you were a child you had a rich musical environment. Tell me more about the early days before you were a professional musician. I would imagine you did all the things that were available to you musically during high school.
Everything you could possibly do and more! Fortunately I had a junior high school music teacher who himself was a woodwind player. In addition to that, he created ensembles for us to play in. By the time I was in the 10th grade I had played in a Swinging Shepherds kind of group consisting of flutes and rhythm section, a Dixieland band, and of course a conventional stage band. In addition to those ensembles there was all the other stuff that goes along with that like marching band, symphonic band, orchestra, orchestra with chorus. Looking back on it, I had a tremendous amount of experience before I even got to high school.
Was that typical of the area you were in or more the school district you were in?
It’s all about individual teachers who are motivated and very energetic. God knows it’s a whole lot of work for very little compensation except for the satisfaction that you are turning on a whole lot of kids to music.
Great teachers mold us all. I have my teachers to thank as you do yours. It’s nice that you put that out there like that.
Absolutely. God Bless them all.
After high school you attended USC for a time?
I was faced with the possibility of being drafted. The Vietnam War was in full bloom. I graduated high school in February of ’66. The majority of ’66 and ’67 had to face that. I solved the problem in a way that I was very grateful to have done. I joined the Air National Guard at Van Nuys Air force Base. It was a six-year program that involved a monthly weekend meeting and two weeks in the summer. They actually came to recruit me. The band director of the Air Force Band, Captain Bob Brunner was a staff composer at Disney Studios. You’ll find his name on composing credits for a few Disney pictures and things in the sixties and seventies. He understood the value of the war as it applied to him. All the best musicians were clamoring to fulfill their military service in some way that would prevent them from having to go to Vietnam.
A friend of mine from high school called my house one day and said, “Listen Tom. You should join this band.” He pointed out all the reasons why. I joined while I was still in high school. I went to a meeting and they accepted me. I did a whole year of service without having gone to basic training.
You served a year before you even went to basic training? Did you go to basic after that?
Yeah. Then I went to basic training. The reason for that was that they were so busy training Vietnam soldiers in the Air Force. I was with the Air National Guard. The training center was Lackland Texas at that time. Air National Guard guys was the lowest priority. (Laughs) So there was no opening for me in basic training. I got a year out of the way and would go to those meetings in my street clothes. (Laughs)
Ultimately I did go to basic training. They had to open up an alternate basic training site in Amarillo, Texas. To me benefit, they were woefully unprepared. (Laughs) They cut the course down from 6 weeks to 4 weeks in order to rush people through it. I never did the things you normally associate with basic. I never did KP. I never had to crawl under barbed wire – never had to do any of that. I came back from Amarillo and spent another 3 or 4 months doing administrative work in the office at Van Nuys Air Force Base.
In time of war the National Guard does have a very important function. They have to ship whatever the soldiers need over there. They were running missions out of that base on a 24-hour basis. In its way it was an important thing. The thing was though – I was in the band! (Laughs)
I got out in ’71. Once I got back from basic training and fulfilled my administrative requirement I enrolled at USC.
You were a composition major at USC?
Well I intended to be but it never turned out that way. I went to interview in the music department. They give you a placement test when you enter. I aced all the stuff that involved harmony and composition. I was not well schooled in music history. They told me that I had to be placed at a beginning level. I said, “That’s fine. I don’t’ mind that at all. I do have one question. I’ve already has some experience writing my own music. Maybe I could assemble a group to play it.” The attitude of those conducting the interview was like, “Oh please, you’re a freshman. We couldn’t even consider such a thing. Maybe when you’re a senior or a graduate student…” In my mind I went, “Hey. Hold it. I’m with you guys. I’m already working.” (Laughs) So I decided to go ahead and take some courses and decide on the music major later. I knew what I would need and fulfill a few basic requirements like a logic course and philosophy. I actually forget what they were. I went to USC for a year. At the same time I started to work. I agonized over the decision to stay there for 3 more years or take the work. The bottom line is that the work was just too tempting. I dropped out after a year.
The irony is that about 10 years after that the USC Alumni Committee called me. They said they wanted to honor me at the annual homecoming football game. They wanted to actually give me an award. I told them that flattered me. They were honoring me for my professional status, certainly not because I attended their music school.
So you were honored even though you didn’t actually graduate from that music school?
No! I declined. I passed. I told them, “If you and I went ahead with this we would be lying.” It would have been a dishonest ceremony.
That’s very admirable. Many universities give honorary degrees and recognition to those who never actually attended.
Admirable or not, it just didn’t feel right. I have to sleep at night. I’m not holding myself up as a shining example of morality. I’m must saying it was a decision that I made quite easily. It would have been a sham. I couldn’t do that.
When I entered USC I had already been in various jazz ensembles. We won a battle of the bands at the Hollywood Bowl sponsored by the L.A. Department of Parks and Recreation. The year after I won, The Carpenters, actually called The Richard Carpenter Trio. Richard played piano and Karen was behind the drums. She didn’t even sing at that point. It was kind of based on the Oscar Peterson Trio.
Really!? The Carpenters played jazz?
Yeah, they were a standard kind of jazz piano group – absolutely. Karen was behind the drums, not singing – and not a bad drummer! Again, the pop thing had not come their way yet. They were instrumentalists at that time. That’s where you were drawn if you weren’t a rock and roller. You were either in a surf band or a jazz group back then.
It sounds like you grew up in a very fertile music breeding ground.
Oh please! I was obsessed with music and everything about it. Not only how to play saxophone, clarinet and flute but I was obsessed with learning how to arrange. I also spent hours on the weekends dropping the needle down on the record for only a few seconds and then pulling it off. I’d try to pick off all the notes I was hearing. Whether it was Benny Goodman, John Coltrane, Cannonball or an entire arrangement by Count Basie – whatever it was – I just wanted to know how music was built. I wanted understand what the component elements were. I just got way into it.
So you were really teaching yourself ear-training in a way? Was this at the piano?
Yup. Yes we had a piano in our house, thank God, and that was great. I also had some Music Minus One records which is how I began improvising. I would just play along with the Cole Porter one – just wonderful. It was a fabulous way to play in the privacy of my own home and not be embarrassed in public, yet train myself.
It’s always interesting to hear how musicians like yourself have found your way.
It could have been classified as an obsession. I might have benefited from the help of a psychologist.(Laughs) It was something that I thought about night and day.
Your father, Nathan Scott, being so involved in music couldn’t have hurt I’m sure.
That was a GREAT help. There was always a room in my house where my dad would sit at an old upright piano and bang out these dramatic chords. He had a wonderful harmonic sense. He wrote a lot of bitonal music where you have two keys going on at once. He was really a brilliant composer. He wrote music for Dragnet and all the music for the last 10 years of Lassie on the air.
Did he actually teach or coach you?
Not in a formal sense but he was always there when I had questions. If I was stuck on a chord that wasn’t easy to pick out on piano or something like that he’d always help me. Some of the Gil Evans stuff was difficult and I’d ask my dad what it was. He’d figure it out and point it out. He was just a wonderful influence. I learned an awful lot from him by osmosis.
Was your mother musical as well?
Yes she was. She went to USC and actually graduated (Laughs). She used to accompany light opera singers and that sort of thing. She pretty much became a fulltime homemaker. Music was definitely in my genes.
Skip, you’re near Philadelphia. Do you know Allan Slutsky?
Yes we’ve gigged together. He was behind Standing in the Shadows of Motown movie and tour. You were involved with that as well, yes?
I made the movie and had no involvement with them whatsoever until a year or two ago. I had been doing music for American Idol. I was playing the band for the orchestra prerecords. It was the year that Fantasia Barrino won Idol. They did a Motown night on American Idol. While doing prerecords with some buddies of mine I heard about the Motown night planned. Since I had played in the movie, I contacted Allan directly by email. I said, “Listen. I hear you’re coming to my town to do American Idol. I want to remind you that I was in the movie and I would love to be one of the players on the show.” He emailed me back and said, “Great. Sure.”
So you rejoined Standing in the Shadows of Motown for the American Idol show.
Yes. There was lots of turmoil within that tour at that time. Shortly after that Alan was dropped as manager. I can see both sides of it. It was pretty ugly when stepped on their tour bus and said, “How’s the tour going?” It was real tense.
I crossed paths with some of those players out of Philly and asked about that tour. I got an earful as well!
Do you know Keith?
Keith Benson the drummer? Yes. We played opposite each other in Atlantic City many years ago. I had forgotten he was with Standing in the Shadows of Motown. He’s a pocket player.
Yeah, I know – perfect. Alan brought him in as a second drummer to kind of shore up the other guy. There were two old guys in the movie and one of them died right after the movie was made. There was a serious drum vacuum after that and Keith filled it really well. I liked him.
I had the pleasure of playing with Bernard Purdie for a weekend. He’s got an incredible back beat. Keith is that type of player as well.
Oh! I just saw Bernard in New York last month.
Harold Jones left a similar impression upon me when I worked with him. He was sitting to immediate right when I played with Natalie Cole. He was just playing quarter notes in the right hand on the ride cymbal. It was so sweet and swinging so hard.
Oh yeah. Harold Jones was with Count Basie as well. That’s a constant source of something supernatural to me. How is it that some people can take something so simple and make it swing? Other people couldn’t do it if you paid them.
Let’s turn that back to Tom Scott the player. What do you think makes you the guy so many people choose to have associated with their projects? What is it about you and the aura around you that has allowed you to present yourself ready for success?
You don’t consciously position yourself like you have any idea how your career is going to go. Careers go one day at a time but you can put yourself in a position to take advantage of what might be out there. Then you just hope for the best. That’s kind of what I did, combined with whatever skill and talent you have at the moment. I actually got in to the studio on a fad with the amplified flute and the echoplex. I was the first guy to have one of those. I was kind of the gimmick guy in the very beginning. Low and behold, they found out that I could play normal saxophone and flute with the guys and hold my own. As far as the record thing, I loved R & B and the playing of King Curtis. There was a certain intensity about his playing. I never really had much of an interest in zeroing in on one style of music. I thought there were great players and great composition in most every style of music. I listened to Coltrane and Cannonball religiously but at the same time I’d listen to King Curtis, Junior Walker and even Boots Randolph after I met him. What a great player and a nice guy.
Yes. I think Yakety Sax was a blessing and a curse for his career.
Yes, but he has so much more going on that just that.
He played a very happening solo on Peggy Lee’s Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree. It blew me away when I found out that was him. It sounds like something Sam Butera would have played. You’re familiar with Sam Butera.
The Witnesses!? You’ve got to be kidding me! Where’s Louis and Keely?
I had an opportunity to see Sam Butera quite a bit over the years. Again, I was quite surprised to find out something that sounded like that was Boots Randolph.
Boots Randolph can also play very sensitive as well. He’s just a wonderful musician. Depending on your point of view, he got boxed in or launched into fame, by that tune.
Is there anything in your career that was very successful yet you weren’t that fond of? There are so many things I’m sure you are proud of. Any you’re not that happy with?
When I think of some of the things that I did in the past, certainly some of it was not music that I particularly liked. I wasn’t that crass about it in my mind. I knew I was going to play horn arrangements with these fabulous horn players and we were just going to nail it. Playing on sessions is something that sometimes transcends the artist. I played on all the Partridge Family records. (Tom sings I Think I Love You)
(Laughs) You’re on that one!?
Oh yeah, but the sessions were great. We used to do funny things during the breaks and all that. Those were the days. It was like a big party but all the musicians played great. Nobody ever stumbled.
Another thing was the Rod Stewart thing Do You Think I’m Sexy? I loved that because I got to meet Tom Dowd. He was a great record producer that I admired very much. He had an incredible history with Atlantic Records. Right on the spot I asked him if he would produce me. He very politely declined. (Laughs)
In the aftermath that recording seems to have become one of the poster children of disco. In that sense it has sort of a negative connotation. I heard that Rod got sued because that melody (hums string line to Do You Think I’m Sexy?) was actually written by some Brazilian guy. (Laughs)
Many sax players like myself took that solo off the record note for note and had to play it on stage night after night. I worked with a Rod Stewart impersonator for a while. He’d bring a girl up to the stage and I’d get down on one knee and play YOUR solo to her!
The first album of yours that I owned was Blow it Out with the tune from Starsky and Hutch Theme on it. That’s another poster child for the seventies in general.
You grew up in an atmosphere where there weren’t a lot of limits. You said back in the day you had a lot of fun on the breaks.
I’ll address that this way: When the Beatles were asked about their drug use, PR man Derek Taylor said, “They really don’t do dangerous drugs. They do more silly drugs.”
You must have been one of those guys who has some sort of internal mechanism that goes off when you’re too close to the edge.
Yes. God, thank you. We all have had enough friends who couldn’t restrain themselves. To me the work, the music was it. I was so into the music, I never let that get in the way.
Eye of the tiger…the focus was always the music.
So here we are years later. Is there an outlet you have now other than music? Do you have a hobby?
Well my hobby is kind of built in here where I live. I live in the Hatchpee Mountains. It’s actually the southern tip of the Sierra Nevada Mountains that stretch all the way into Oregon. My cabin is on a knoll and if I look down, my closest neighbor is a cow! I have 20 acres of mostly hillside. I have all the modern conveniences and all the rest but it’s way out of town. I love hiking around this beautiful high desert paradise. I live in a place called Bear Valley Springs which is a gated community within the city limits.
How long have you lived in that area as opposed to being closer to L.A.?
I’ve lived here permanently as a result of the divorce from my wife in 2002. This was our vacation cabin up until that point. We split up and I camp out here.
I’m sorry to hear that you went through a recent divorce.
Oh well, you know – I’ve gone through one before. The first time there were no kids involved. It’s always a drag when kids are involved with a divorce. Lynne and I were married 21 years.
How did you find this area?
I became aware of this area and lived here briefly in the seventies with my first wife. She was a Playboy Playmate and much older.
We got bought the land around ’92 and paid the land off in installments with the understanding that we couldn’t build until we paid off the land. We paid off the land about ’96 or ’97 we built a 1000 square foot, log cabin.
Do you have a small recording set up for yourself at the cabin?
I sure do. It’s in the loft. I have a Macintosh and Logic based setup. I also have the PC Gigastudio for all the instrument sounds. Nowadays you can do state of the art digital recording in the corner of any room.
We love the computers for all they can do for us.
So you’re all set up for music writing and recording in your cabin loft. You also keep a place in L.A. for when you work in town.
Yes. It’s just a place to sleep, cook a meal and take a shower.
That sounds better than a hotel when you need a place to stay. How often do you go back and forth?
Needless to say it varies. I go into town on average one or two times per week. I also go out on tour at different times.
Are you going into L.A. as Tom Scott the performer, arranger, composer, and director – one more than the other?
All the above. (Laughs) In October I was the musical director for the Emmys so I did all that. I wrote all those little pieces of music to go in and out of commercials during the show. I arranged many of the TV themes for my orchestra for that as well. I’ve been going in to play on two wacky cartoon shows – American Dad and The Family Guy. I’ve been playing alto, flute and clarinet on that.
Tell me what you look for in players who work with you. Although you don’t contract all your own orchestras, is there a particular quality or trait you’re look for in your collaborators?
I always have a list of players who I prefer to have. There are a couple of things I look for. In a professional recording studio in Hollywood you must be quick. You must be able to read the music and have it ready to record in one rehearsal or less. That’s one thing. Secondly, you must be able to play with passion. This is what distinguishes you from other players who are technically good but have no soul or heart. It’s an ephemeral quality but you’ve got to dig down in a spiritual way. An exceptional player needs to speak through their own instrument and to realize their voice.
If I had my druthers, I would have been you when I was 16 or 17 years old. I aspired to be writing and arranging for horn sections and playing fabulous pop solos on people’s records. That’s what I wanted to be doing.
To the extent that I’ve provided inspiration for you or anyone else out there – that is a gift from God. I can’t tell you what joy it brings me to know that I had anything to do in that regard. It’s a privilege.
You have as much to do with many of us becoming commercial saxophonists and doublers as anyone in the 70s. The names Tom Scott, Michael Brecker and David Sanborn were synonymous with…
That’s right. We were our own “holy trinity.” (Laughs)
You’re saying that jokingly. But it really is true. I won’t undermine the accomplishments of Cannonball and Coltrane, but in your own way, the three of you influenced another generation.
I see the logic of that. I do understand. The three of us sprung up separately but together with three different interpretations of what was happening at that point.
You were three of the most copied saxophone players of that era.
I will blow my own horn a little bit now that we’re on the subject. About 10 years ago friend of mine was recruited to join the engineering faculty at Berklee College of Music. We had a going away party for her and she had the Berklee catalog with her. I was looking through it and was absolutely blown away by all the offerings. One of the courses listed was Jazz-Fusion 101: A Study of the Music of Tom Scott and the Brecker Bros. You know, I would love to take that course because I don’t have a clue as to what I’m doing! I’m just making one record after the next. If that turns out to be a style, pattern or something that you can make a course out of – fantastic! (Laughs)
I recently posed the question: “What happened to the saxophone in pop music?”
Everything changes. What if I claim that Kenny G did it? I’m not saying he did it. I’m just proposing that as a theory. Did he?
Are you saying that tongue in cheek or are you seriously posing that question?
Well, sometimes I wonder. I’m not in love with his particular style. It’s a little syrupy for me. I have always tried to have an open mind. It may not be for me but if it elevates saxophone in popular music, I’m all for it. Then I started hearing him on elevators and I thought, “Oh my God. This is the Musak of the new millennium.”
You pose a provocative question. There are many “contemporary jazz saxophonists” out there who feel there is no other place to go with their music these days except into the Smooth Jazz format.
Well you know something; I’m not one of those people. I never felt that I had to go a particular way. I didn’t really care because I was lucky enough to do enough other things. I could support myself on writing and other things I was doing. I just did what felt good to me and what I thought the public would like. I’ve always operated on the premise that I can be happy with what I’ve done and not feel that I’m pandering to an audience. The audience in turn can feel that they are participating in your music. They have a stake in it and it speaks to them. I’ve achieved that to greater or lesser degrees over the years but that was the goal.
In the last few years of running my website I have come across a trend in those who are accessing the site. Not only are a lot of younger players visiting SaxShed.com but a lot of middle-aged semi-pro players as well. There are a lot of players out there who are getting back into playing in the middle of their lives.
Well God Bless them. That’s great!
Every kid in the 70s who listened to your recordings is still out there. Many of them are returning to playing. If they gave it up for a time and became successful businessmen in some other endeavor – they now have gone back to saxophone. They now want to pursue it again.
How cool is that? To have such a passion – God Bless them.
A lot of these guys are looking for a simple way to have fun playing on smooth jazz recordings. Either they are making their own or they are just playing along with existing recordings. All this is leading up to the question.
Several years ago a keyboard player and former trombone player hipped me to this “two scale approach.” It’s pretty simple actually. You just play the blues scale starting on the root of the key or its relative minor. For example: If C is the tonal center you would either play C Blues or A Blues. Your ear will decide which works better. It’s a great way to sound like you know what you’re doing, even if your ears are not well developed for hearing changes.
There’s a plethora of reasons why one would work better than another on a C7, Cmaj7, Cmi7, Csus or whatever… I’m talking about someone who doesn’t have a grasp of all that theory yet.
When I listen to “smooth jazz” recordings made today and many of the contemporary jazz recordings of the past – again and again I’m hearing one of these two blues scales being used.
Much of the R&B, Pop and Smooth Jazz stuff I’ve transcribed over the years is filled with nothing but pentatonic and blues scales.
Do you see it this way? Is it just that simple?
Well it’s a start.
Obviously there are many recordings of your own which showcase more rhythmic and harmonic complexity.
Well I tried to slip some in from time to time. Absolutely. (Laughs)
As far as playing on “Joe Schmo’s” pop tune it comes down to pentatonic and blues 90% of the time, doesn’t it?
Yes, however when you put it that way it sounds sort of mundane. There’s no adventure there. Even if you figure that out and execute that, it’s not just about that theory. It’s about making music and doing it passionately. Use those tools to say something. That’s the goal. Ear training is still a worthy pursuit. Just keep that in mind. You alluded to “either they hear it or they don’t” or something like that. There is a point where you’ve GOTTA hear it. (Laughs)
I’ll give you a better example. Recently I transcribed a Richard Elliot tune that was 4 minutes of music based on a blues scale. I enjoyed listening to the tune and writing out all the ornaments and inflections that made it unique. Melodically, whether written or improvised he utilized virtually nothing but the notes in a blues scale.
…In terms of harmonic analysis.
Sure there were some nice juicy changes going on underneath but…
…but you could play the common tones which enable you to just play straight through it.
Yes. Bob Mintzer has some great books with etudes that utilize that approach.
Yes. I just got one of those books last week.
One of them ends with a tune called “Fast.” There are two versions – Fast and REALLY Fast!
I bet it is!
He has a couple other tunes that have a Yellowjackets kind of vibe to them.
We love that!
The changes are great but just basically a reharmonized 1-6-2-5. He’s just playing the pentatonic scale all day long.
It sounds very hip and very happening.
If you try to play anything sophisticated inside the changes, it sounds like you’re from mars.
Well you’d better know what you’re doing! (Laughs) It’s a very rarified atmosphere up there. I’ll present the other side of that. It’s safe. There is a legitimate test of players’ abilities. Sometimes you may be asked to “skirt around the edge and take some chances for me?” There’s a challenge in that. It’s absolutely safe the other way. You know for teaching purposes it’s probably a good thing. It gives these kids something to glom onto. There’s an area that the can live in and something they can initially do. It’s not about the number of notes. It’s about how you deliver them and what you say. The thing that you’re aiming for is letting out what you’re feeling inside.
We’ve covered a lot of different topics. Is there an artist you’d like to work with? You’ve worked with Streisand. You’ve worked with Sinatra. Somebody you missed?
I’ve blown for some of the great singers. I’ve never worked with Tony Bennett. I would love to do so. I have another musician friend here in Bear Valley named Jorg Calandrelli. He’s a fantastic composer and arranger who is currently doing all the arrangements for the Tony Bennett. That stuff is being recorded as we speak. I don’t think I’ve recorded anything with Stevie Wonder. We’ve danced around the subject when we’ve crossed paths. Nothing ever came to fruition. I didn’t push him. Maybe I should have.
You obviously have a good barometer telling you when to strike and when to lay back. It’s not just preparedness, luck and being a nice guy. All of those things have to come together at the same time for great success.
No. It’s all of that. That’s right. You say “nice guy.” I don’t want to characterize myself. I’ll let other people do that. I think what got me going in the studio pop music world was the fact that I realized that a lot of the songwriters and artists I would work with were self-taught. If I talked quarter notes and stuff like that, it was just intimidating to them. Should it come to that, I would let them tell me what they wanted and then try to interpret it into my own musical language. I always try to adapt to the situation. I’m always going to be friendly and act like I’m happy to be there. It’s pretty basic stuff. You’ve taken the job so by all means bring a good attitude with you. You’re being paid to play music. You’re one of the luckiest people on the planet for God’s sake!
You’ve done everything Tom. What have you not accomplished yet that you might want to?
Wow. I suppose in the broadest sense I have done most of the things I dreamed about doing. I’m very, very lucky. I’m a lucky guy and I’m very blessed. The older you get, the more you want to do things that have meaning. I’ll be 58 in May. Money is less important now to me. I want my life to have meaning. I want to do things that are meaningful. That really matters much more now. I think that’s the attitude we should all bring with us. You’ve got to make a living but you try to find some outlet where you can explore your passion. You talked about these 48-year-old guys who are resuming their love for the saxophone. That’s the deal. They’ve got it right.
For a complete discography, credits and more info on Tom Scott, please visit TomScottMusic.com
Selmer Sopranino Sax w/ Selmer Mouthpiece
Yamaha Soprano Sax
– Dukoff D6 Mouthpiece
– Van Doren 2-1/2 Reed
L.A. Sax 'Chicago Jazz' model Burnished Brass Alto Sax
– Guardala Custom Mouthpiece
– Fibracell Medium Reeds
L.A. Sax 'Chicago Jazz' model Black Nickel Tenor Sax
– Guardala Custom Mouthpiece
– Van Doren 'Jazz' 2-1/2 Reeds
Selmer 'Low A' Baritone Sax
Rudall-Carte Alto Flute
Larry Frank Bass Flute
Selmer Bass Clarinet
Applied Microphone Technologies Wireless Sax Mic
Saxrax Sax & Woodwind Stands
Akai EWI 4000s Wind Synthesizer
Mac G5 Desktop Computer
Powerbook G4 Laptop Computer
UAD-1 Audio Effects Card
Logic Pro 7.1 Music Sequencing Software
Live 5 Music Sequencing Software
Sibelius 4 Music Notation Software
Applied Microphone Technologies