Born: March 14, 1964 Primary Instrument: Piano
With his seventh album, jazz pianist Dred Scott and his Trio deliver a hefty helping of the downtown cool that has earned them one of the most fervent followings on the New York jazz scene. Featuring upright bassist and producer Ben Rubin and drummer Tony Mason, Live at the Rockwood, out now on Ropeadope Digital, is a two-session masterpiece which documents the trio’s open-ended engagement (three years and counting) at this popular Lower East Side venue. The record includes six Dred Scott originals as well as covers of artists ranging from saxophonist Bill McHenry to Black Sabbath. All About Jazz declares: “Live at the Rockwood Music Hall is a beautiful showcase of this dynamic piano trio.”
The Dred Scott Trio delivers a cheeky change of pace from the buttoned-up shush-y vibe of the usual jazz club fare. The music itself is heady, jazzy, and deep enough to please the hardest-core jazz fan, yet remains remarkably accessible. Audiences eat up Dred’s unique and compelling piano style and blistering, high-larious verbal “dispatches” from the stage that make the crowd part of the show, and answer in the affirmative Frank Zappa’s classic rhetorical question, “Does humor belong in music?” By 2 am every Tuesday, usually after a swinging treatment of Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear The Reaper” or an R-rated barnburner of Dred’s avant-garde “Mojo Rhythm, Son of Yaah!,” someone’s overheard gurgling, “I used to think jazz sucked, but this ROCKS!” Yes, that same someone invariably throws up, passes out, and gets the boot, but the sentiment remains sincere.
Dred Scott grew up in St. Louis, but honed his chops in the San Francisco Bay Area where he gained a reputation as an innovator and as a leader of the groundbreaking jazz/hip-hop band Alphabet Soup. He has also recorded on nearly 40 albums with the likes of Don Byron, Anthony Braxton, John Adams, Cecil McBee, and Andrew Cyrille, and has performed with Levon Helm, Norah Jones, Joe Henderson, Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, Bob Weir, Rickie Lee Jones, Moby, the Berkeley Symphony (Kent Nagano), and many more. His trio, which includes his bassist of 12 years, Ben Rubin aka Benny Cha Cha (Mudville, Marshall Crenshaw, Karsh Kale) and drumming phenom Tony Mason (Joan Osborne, Leo Nocentelli, Bo Diddley, Charlie Hunter Trio), recently made their first appearance at the venerated 2008 Newport Jazz Festival and also appear as a jazz trio in the feature film Once More, With Feeling, starring Drea de Matteo, Linda Fiorentino and Chazz Palmenteri, which premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. In 2006, Dred scored the documentary Home, which featured Susan Sarandon, Mike Myers, Liam Neeson and many others. Dred Scott also collaborates with some of NYC’s most sought-after acts, including Richard Julian, Sasha Dobson, Bill McHenry, Jay Collins, Rene Risque and the Art Lovers, Mudville and many others. Most recently, Dred produced Country Joe and the Fish bassist Bruce Barthol’s debut record, and is currently producing albums for vocalist Carol Lipnik, and the Bari Koral Family Band.