Tony Scott this weekend. One of the more underrated and overlooked Jazz clarinetists, Scott was a major practitioner of Cool School Jazz. After achieving considerable notice via Downbeat magazine (awarding him Downbeat Critics Poll awards for 1955, 1957, 1958 and 1959). But despite that, he was relatively little-known outside of dedicated Jazz circles.
So in 1959 he left New York and began his journey that led him out of he U.S. and over to Asia where he became involved in Asian music as well as meditation. In 1964 Verve issued his Music For Zen Meditation, which featured Scott recorded in a Hindu temple. He was later given Downbeat Japan’s Critics Poll for best musician of 1964. Still, he couldn’t seem to make much dent in the U.S., with critics and audiences preferring Buddy DeFranco.
This concert is most likely a story in itself. 1968 was to be the 5th anniversary of the Prague International Jazz festival. the one opportunity Czech Jazz fans got to hear performers from all over the world. The festival was set for October and it was slated to feature a huge roster of American Jazz performers, including Tony Scott, who had collaborated with Felix Slovacek, one of the most prominent Czech Jazz Pianists at the time.
Unfortunately, in August of 1968 there was the matter of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia and the end of what was known as Prague Spring or “Socialism With A Human Face”. The Festival was drastically cut back, down to only two concerts in two days and the only representatives of American Jazz were Scott, Sandy Brown, Maynard Ferguson and The Illinois University Jazz Band.
Portions of the Ferguson set were filmed by Czech TV as well as bits of the Tony Scott performance. Czech Radio managed to carry the whole festival and this is where this set comes from.
Scott settled in Italy in the early 70s and got into acting, but still was dedicated to Meditation and Eastern music. He became interested in Electronica in the early 2000s and it was around this time that his earlier career and influence in the Cool School of Jazz became recognized and most of his earlier material has since been reissued.
You may not be familiar with the music of Tony Scott – here’s a chance to check out one of those pivotal practitioners of the Cool School in a live concert setting, which also features the Czech pianist Felix Slovacek.
Worth a listen and worth checking out.