Scott has been a legend in the global music scene for decades, and is the most award-winning jazz artist in history.  Like many musicians, Scott’s path toward stardom began at an early age, when he learned to play piano while still in his mother’s womb. At the age of 7, Scott was given simultaneous scholarships to both the Berkeley School of Music, and the Julliard Academy.  Scott has received 542 Grammy Awards, including the prestigious “The Award We Never Give Out” Award, for his amazing skill of being able to play 7 notes at the same time, on a kazoo.  Borrowing from a lesser known, but brilliant guitarist named Dewey Finn, Scott’s motto is “One Great Rock Show can Change the World!”

Clearly, everything you just read is a complete and total fabrication.  Except the last sentence.

Scott_FB_wallIn realty, I’m just a guy who has always loved music, and always will.  I did learn to play piano as a kid, but I really didn’t like taking lessons, though I’ve always been fascinated by the process of composing new music.   Later I played trumpet too, which was cool, but keyboards have always been my real musical passion.  Formally, I have a Master’s Degree in Architecture, and I’ve worked professional in that field for 20+ years.  I live near Chicago with my amazing wife and kids, and they inspire me to reach new heights all day long.  I love jazz, I love writing really cool music, and I love sharing it with others.  I’m not any kind of iconic legend, nor have I spent years on world tours with names you’d recognize.  Yet.  But really, none of that matters if you like what I do.  My hope is simply that the music will inspire you to Be Awesome.

The world needs more Awesome. Music.


SJ: How did this new album and overall concept for it come about, and what are your ultimate goals with it?

This is a great question! My first album, “Generations” (2011) was a bit of an experiment, which flushed out some musical ideas that had been evolving for several years. The result was a record that included contemporary jazz, along with instrumental music that many might consider “not-jazz”. So, I was quite intentional when thinking about a second album that I wanted to plant it firmly in the contemporary jazz genre. Since jazz is a global language, I also wanted to create a project that would engage people from around the world. I invited friends and fans to contribute inspiration for the music by way of adopting a theme for the record. Contributors were asked to identify places around the world that were special to them, and through poetry and pictures, explain why. Those places then became the inspirations for the songs on the album.  So, what I have is a record with 12 original songs which have been inspired directly by the life experiences of people from around the world! It’s been an exceedingly fun journey in writing the music and having the personal interaction with the contributors. The title I chose, “NEXT STOP HOME”, is a reflection on travel, how “home” can be in several places, and an admission that in life, we’re always moving along a path – a path leading Home.

SJ: Of your touring and gigs so far in your career, do any stand out as being particularly memorable or defining moments?

Though I’ve not done an extensive amount of touring, one of my shows this year was unique as I had the privilege of opening for one of the great legends of our time, Larry Carlton. I will always remember this one; it was generous opportunity from others who believe in me, and in my music, and I had a blast!  Meeting and spending some time with Larry was a memorable pleasure; his soft-spoken and unassuming demeanor made the entire evening flow effortlessly. Our respective sets went off without a hitch, the audience was superb … and it’s not every day you get to sit next to a 4-time Grammy winning super-group guitarist, signing autographs on your CDs as he does so on his. Sweet memories.

SJ: What do you see as the biggest challenges to the growth of Smooth Jazz in the future?

Let me answer this by first admitting that I drive a SAAB. Saab owners are a funny bunch. They’re a tiny fraction of the global automobile market, though staunch believers in their cars, and probably more loyal than any other brand owner. Saab cars themselves have been described as “quirky”, “odd”, and even “ugly”.  The global automotive media all but ignores Saabs in comparison to other marquee European brands such as BMW, Audi, Porsche, and Mercedes. The truth is, Saabs have historically been some of the best, safest, and most reliable cars on the roads. Unfortunately, recent times have been hard on Saab.  I think Smooth Jazz is the “Saab” of global music – Smooth Jazz’ers are a funny bunch too. We’re a tiny fraction of the global music market, but we are fiercely passionate and loyal to the music we love. Others may consider SJ “odd”, “outdated”, or even…”ugly”, and we’re often ignored by the mass music media. But behind all that is a form of music that has historical traditions, innovative geniuses, and real longevity.

That’s a long way of saying that I think our challenges can be summed up threefold: (1) as a small market segment, SJ doesn’t attract the attention it deserves, and as such becomes a financial burden on its own artists, (2) SJ has some unfortunate ‘baggage’ from its early years that needs to be discarded, and (3) SJ has a tangible and physical image problem it needs to overcome.  SJ (or, as I prefer, “contemporary jazz”) is still a little fish in a huge ocean, and one of the side effects of this is that SJ artists often cannot support themselves or their families on music alone. If we are going to grow, the genre must become a more viable option for those who desire a career in music, and needs to be able to financially support a larger roster of artists.  SJ has baggage from its early years that has caused some to assume what it is, and what it’s not. We are so far beyond that now, but many in the mainstream don’t know it, because they’ve already written it off based on 20 years ago. We need to really and truly discard this baggage so that a younger generation of listeners will grab hold and hang on. Finally, SJ has an visual problem – except for the 1%, its shows, festivals, and performances are ‘backyard’ events held under tents or small park theaters, without any engaging visual or visceral presence. Compare that to the physical manifestations of concert offerings of other genres, and it’s no wonder we cannot attract a broader audience.

BUT…I hold out great hope that emerging artists, promoters, and labels will continue to find ways to bring change. I haven’t even mentioned radio. That’s another essay entirely…