Primary Instrument: Vocal
Armed with roses and a piano, singer/songwriter and pianist David Thorne Scott has designs on your heart with his new album Hopeful Romantic. Deep musicianship and creativity born of years of jazz explorations combine with youthful iconoclasm and a rock aesthetic to give music-lovers a delightful surprise. Playfully sweet but wise lyrics and angular melodies are hallmarks, as is the intimate yet strong voice that declaims them.
“I love my audience. Whenever I have stretched out in my live jazz shows, whether it’s a country song or an 80s pop ballad or an experiment with electronics and chanting, they have come right along to listen,” says Scott. “When I heard the Jamie Cullum record The Pursuit, I had the epiphany that I could bring the same eclecticism to a recording.”
Hopeful Romantic �� the Boston-based singer’s first crossover album �� consists of smoky jazz, powerful rock anthems, bouncy pop and moody hip-hop musings. These disparate rays are focused through a voice that provides a singular emotional resonance. Regardless of style, “I still sound like myself,” Scott says.
The bookend tracks are “The Sign On My Door” and “Crossing the Line,” originals that sound like jazz standards from the golden age, but with sly lyrics born of a 21st century mind: “Let the coffee cool down while we’re foolin’ around, we can go to Starbucks afterwards…” The infectious “Who Doesn’t Want To Fall In Love” and the ebullient “I Should Take It From Here” are flirtations that practically scream to be sung along with. “More Than One Way” mesmerizes with a mélange of acoustic, electric and electronic sound anchored by aggressive percussion to tell a story of freedom from the chains of obsessive love. Perhaps the most distinctive track is “Wisdom From Truth,” with its R&B-infused form and hook, dark harmonies and lyrics, and bebop melody. “I was trying to channel Eddie Jefferson by way of Robert Glasper,” says Scott with a laugh.
Hopeful Romantic is a stylistic departure from Scott’s previous recordings, the late-night jazz of Shade and the kinetic interplay of the vocal/piano duet record Dyad. As a pure jazz singer, Cadence Magazine says “he phrases like a saxophone player and is as slippery and hip as the young Mel Tormé.”
The Jazz Education Journal chose Shade as a Top 5 Vocal CD of the year. It was the only self-produced album in a lineup of luminaries Andy Bey, Kitty Margolis, Mark Murphy and Judi Silvano. “He is a welcome change from the more predictable vocal jazzers in the competitive vocal milieu. Scott's voice is refreshingly different; he explores, discovers, and shares resulting creative approaches to melodies and doesn't fail to swing,” said Herb Wong’s review. “I haven’t been this moved by a performance of ‘For All We Know’ since Carmen McRae.”
“Crystal clear diction, squeaky clean tone and the ability to scat like a true horn player are among the qualities that set this vocalist apart from hundreds of thousands of jazz singers of either sex. … [Scott is] an indisputable jazz artist that belongs in the spotlight,” says Ori Dagan of ejazznews.com.
Since the recording of Dyad, Scott has been experimenting with widely varying styles of music. He founded the Hard Bop Sextet featuring Greg Hopkins to explore funky jazz inspired by 1960s Blue Note recordings. As a member of the vocal quartet Syncopation, which the Boston Globe calls “a 21st- century Manhattan Transfer or Lambert, Hendricks and Ross,” Scott sang and played trumpet with the Boston Pops and the New England Wind Symphony. He appeared as a guest soloist on Mina Cho’s Originality album, which received a four-star review in DownBeat Magazine. Not content to sing only contemporary music, Scott has performed with the Blue Heron Renaissance choir, which the New Yorker praises for “fresh ideas” and “expressive intensity.”
“Collaboration is the name of the game for me right now,” Scott says. “It gets me out of myself. There are so many genius musicians in Boston, there’s not enough time to work with them all.”
The grand collaboration of Hopeful Romantic is with Gold- and Platinum-award winning producer/musician Anthony J. Resta, whose resumé includes work with veteran bands like Duran Duran, Collective Soul and Shawn Mullins as well as up-and- comers The Cinnamon Fuzz and The Elevator Drops. While Scott recorded all the lead vocals and multitracked the background vocals in his bedroom (pictured on the CD jacket), his piano and Rhodes parts were tracked in the liquid centre of the rhythm factory, the heart of the sci-fi mambo lab: Resta’s recording studio Bopnique Musique. Tucked away beneath an old mill complex north of Boston, Resta’s secret lair hides like a musical comic-book hero’s Beat Cave, with dozens of guitars, vintage keyboards, electronic doohickeys and musical toys that he and engineer Karyadi Sutedja employ to create grooves and atmospheres.
It might seem an unlikely pairing, the jazzer and the mad scientist, but Resta’s iconoclastic rock, hip-hop and experimental electronica and percussion creates a surprisingly cohesive sonic landscape suited perfectly for Scott’s arranging acumen and songcraft. Scott reflects, “Even though this was my first time working in a pop production style, we worked hard to achieve the flow of a jazz record.”
What he’s learned from recording this album, Scott says, is that “there is no reason not to sing a wide range of music that you love and can perform with enthusiasm and energy. My audience wants to enjoy music without worrying about stylistic purity, or whether the live show sounds the same as the record. These people love the physical sensation of good sound waves, they love the mental and emotional stimulation of lyrics that bring the listener in to the process, they love watching the high-wire act of musicians throwing it into that fifth gear where nobody knows where it’s going to land but you trust the pilot to take you down gracefully. They just love the ride.”
Scott is Associate Professor of Voice at Berklee College of Music in Boston.
Awards:Top Five Jazz Vocal CD (2004) - Jazz Education Journal
Andy Bey. American Song. Savoy Jazz Kitty Margoli.s Heart & Soul: Live in San Francisco. Mad-Kat Mark Murphy. Bop for Miles. HighNOte David Thorne Scott. Shade. Judi Silvano. Let Yourself Go. Zoho.
Other Top Vocals of 2004 Irene Kral. Just for Now. Jazzed Media Dianne Reeves. Christmas Time is Here. Blue Note Tierney Sutton. Dancing in the Dark. Telarc. Nancy Wilson. RSVP. Manchester Craftsmen's Guild Giacomo Gates. Centerpiece. Origin Roseanna Vitro. Tropical Postcards. Challenge Jane Monheit. Taking a Chance on Love. Sony Ray Charles. Genius Loves Company. Concord Jazz Tom Lellis. Southern Exposure. Adventure Music Bob Dorough. Sunday at Iridium. Arbors Kalley Johnson. Live at Birdland. Jazzconnect South City Voices. Got Swing! Self produced
DAVID THORNE SCOTT. Shade. Self produced. On my first audition of David Thorne Scott, I was knocked out. The jazz singer/arranger is also a composer/lyricist who is a welcome change from the more predictable vocal jazzers in the competitive vocal milieu. Scott's voice is refreshingly different; he explores, discovers, and shares resulting creative approaches to melodies and doesn't fail to swing. His valuation of the import of melody and controlled use of dynamics is crystal clear. There is excitement in his shifts in tempo, appealing motifs, and phrasing at intriguing junctures, all executed in a pure sweet tone. These traits are funneled into his occasionally playful improvisations and dramatic story telling. Besides his own five originals, there are the familiar Just One of Those Things, Have You Met Miss Jones, April in Paris, Dancing on the Ceiling, and an impressive mood- setting of the ballad For All We Know. His bandmates, like Scott, are Berklee College faculty members - pianist Mark Shilansky, bassist John Funkhouser, drummer Jon Hazilla, and saxophonist Daryl Lowery. We're sure to hear more from and about David Thorne Scott. Herb Wong - Jazz Education Journal (Apr 1, 2004)
David Thorne Scott is a singer with a mellow tenor voice and a real feel for the improvisatory wonders of Jazz. He fares very well on imaginative arrangements of the usual clutch of standards here, like a starry-eyed and dancing “Have You Met Miss Jones?” and an “April In Paris” that shifts tempo several times. He also has fun with several non standard tunes including a bunch of his own work. “Shade” has a sharp funk edge and “Get Out Of Your Own Way” is a swinging brush-off song with a slick bass line. “Clown Stalking” has an up and down melody that gives Scott a chance to really show off his vocal prowess and “Saratoga Hunch” is some typically wry David Frishberg that Scott sings with the requisite casual coolness. His group is an excellent match for his swinging, punchy vocals, particularly the rock solid bass work of John Funkhouser and the soulful Phil Woods-like interjections of alto player Daryl Lowery. Unlike the glorified cabaret singers being pushed as new male Jazz singing stars today, Scott does this music the right way. He phrases like a saxophone player and is as slippery and hip as the young Mel Torme. It would be nice to see some big label pick him up and sell him like they do a Peter Cincotti. Unfortunately, he’s probably too good for that. Jerome Wilson - Cadence Magazine (Aug 1, 2005) Four-and-a-half stars out of five
Months ago I received a review copy of Here Come the Boys: A Canadian Crooner Collection, featuring 15 male voices singing jazz standards. A few mildly successful highlights aside, I found some of these performances to be entirely bland, others blatantly atrocious. Aside from those boys belonging to the male sex, they seemed connected only by the predictability of their clichéd executions. Although I was semi-stunned at some of the selected mediocrity, I recall hoping this wouldn’t become the new element of surprise in 21st century jazz recordings. Luckily “Shade” has calmed me down considerably. David Thorne Scott’s dazzling debut, which features 7 standards, 5 originals and one by Paul Simon, is not just an affirmation of his artistry �� it raises the bar for singers who claim to take themselves seriously. Crystal clear diction, squeaky clean tone and the ability to scat like a true horn player are among the qualities that set this vocalist apart from hundreds of thousands of jazz singers of either sex. It comes as no surprise that he is an Associate Professor at the Berklee College of Music, for Scott’s intellectually stimulating take on the music exudes the perfectionism one might only expect from a devoted academic. Scat �� a four-letter S-word �� is often given a bad name, usually because jazz singers use it incorrectly or in bad taste. From Giacomo Gates to Julie Michels, there are vocalists out there that seem enormously talented until they start scatting. It isn’t enough to randomly toss out the scoolyadoos and shoolyabops �� one must master the syllabic instrument in a jazz context if he/she is singing jazz. This means a swinging grasp on harmonic, melodic and rhythmic improvisation, and it all has to be as interesting as what one might expect from an instrument. Without these essential qualities scat singers miss the point completely, and I am happy to report that Dave is not one of these singers. The sweetest chorus I have heard so far from his lips: a thrilling sample of “There Will Never Be Another You”, available on his website. Luckily Scott is respectful enough to abstain from scatting on standard fare such as “April in Paris” and “For All We Know”, thereby managing to bewitch with his skillful brand of storytelling. These tracks are a superb display of Scott’s sophisticated musical direction and spotless technique. Besides emerging as a genuine romantic, the singer is able to playfully refashion melody in a manner that consistently enhances a lyric. If the weakest element in “Shade” is Dave Scott’s own originals, let this be a compliment, for they aren’t half bad. From the uncanny “Clown Stalking” to the inspirational “Small Feats”, some of these are nearly as stimulating as his revitalizing interpretations of worn-out standards. I hope scat singers are among the listeners that take note of David Thorne Scott: an indisputable jazz artist that belongs in the spotlight. Ori Dagan - ejazznews.com (Jan 23, 2005)
Sing For Your Supper (2001)
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Associate Professor Voice Department Berklee College of Music
Works with vocalists and instrumentalists of all ages. Specializes in jazz singing and close harmony singing.