Introducing...Tommy Scott

Tommy Scott is like an urban myth. He was unleashed to the world when he was very young, a child prodigy, who appeared on international stages, and then … he disappeared. But Tommy is no urban myth … he’s real, and he’s back …

As a teenager in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Tommy was hanging out with Danilo Perez, Joey Calderazzo, Jeff Tain Watts, Brian Blade, Branford Marsalis, John Patitucci and many other great musicians. As with all great human beings, life with all of its complexity and unexpectedness, kept Tommy away from the limelight for several years, in which time, Tommy has worked off-grid, exploring, writing, growing … until now in 2018, Tommy is back …

At the age of 13, Tommy was befriended by the brilliant American pianist, Joey Calderazzo, well known for his collaborations with Branford Marsalis, Michael Brecker and many others. Joey would regularly ask Tommy to sit in with his trio on his UK tours, audiences enjoyed their on-stage impromptu improvisations, and on one occasion with James Jenus on bass and Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts on drums. Joey also introduced Tommy to Branford Marsalis and British pianist Jason Rebello. Branford encouraged Tommy to immerse himself in jazz history, which he duly did, and Tommy subsequently studied piano with Jason Rebello, which was a formative part of Tommy’s musical development.

In 1996, still aged 13, Tommy started attending the Tomorrow’s Warriors jam sessions, where he had the opportunity to play with musicians including Denys Baptiste, Jason Yarde, Orphy Robinson, and Soweto Kinch. Subsequently, musicians including Jean Toussaint, Gerard Presencer and Guy Barker invited Tommy to sit in with their bands. These opportunities and playing around the UK with saxophonist Tony Ashford enabled Tommy to develop his skills playing in a band.

Still in his early teens, Tommy went out of his way in the 1990s to meet, hang out and play with all the great musicians he could find. He met Terrance Blanchard, Ray Brown, Ed Thigpen, Cedar Walton, Roy Haynes and lots more. Tommy got to play for Mulgrew Miller when he was 15 years old. Tommy has a lot of great stories from the 1990s. He recalls: “One time, I was talking to the pianist in Elvin Jones band after hours at Ronnie Scott’s in London, and he asked me to play. Elvin’s wife Keiko went and got Elvin out from the dressing room, and I could sense there was someone behind me watching. When I’d finished playing I turned around and there was Elvin Jones himself! I couldn’t believe that he liked what I played, he gave me a hug, and was ever so warm and encouraging about my playing.’’

At the age of 16, Tommy was invited to perform on the international stage at Cheltenham Jazz Festival in the UK. Tommy was invited by the Festival Director at that time, Jim Smith, to put together a new trio for the festival, featuring American musician, Gene Calderazzo on drums. UK jazz magazine ‘Jazz Review’ wrote that Tommy’s gig was the highlight of that year’s festival, and from there, Tommy appeared at Brecon Jazz Festival, and many other jazz festivals across the UK. It wasn’t long before there was lots of interest in the media, and Tommy was a featured artist in the jazz journal ‘Jazz UK’ in the same year.

In 2000, at the age of 17, Tommy met the Grammy Award winning Panamanian pianist and composer, Danilo Perez. Danilo asked Tommy to jam with him, and they became friends. When Danilo was playing with Wayne Shorter on his UK tours, he’d often team up with Tommy, and they would hang out together. Danilo introduced Tommy to Wayne Shorter, Milton Nascimento, Brian Blade, and Donny McCaslin. At that time Tommy was a prolific transcriber of jazz solos, listening deeply to the solos of great jazz musicians, and transcribing everything he could hear. Tommy had the opportunity to share his transcriptions with Danilo and John Pattitucci, who nicknamed Tommy ‘the Transcriber’. At that time, if Tommy was at a gig, you would hear the musicians shouting “watch out, the transcriber’s in the house!”. Meanwhile, Danilo Perez has been a huge supporter of Tommy’s career, and he has invited Tommy to play in Boston. Tommy is planning something very soon …

After his solo appearance at the 2008 Brecon International Jazz Festival Tommy chose to withdraw from the public eye. People wondered what had happened to the young Tommy Scott. He stayed out of the limelight for a long time, but consistently finding ways to engage with life, always playing just out of sight, exploring, composing, learning and getting ready for the time when he would be able to re-surface. And guess what? That time is now. It’s 2018, and Tommy has returned. No longer the urban myth of the young man who impressed the world with his virtuosity and energy as an artist and musician, now he is really back. In 2018, Tommy is putting together a series of new projects and teaming up with great musicians from around the world. Watch this space. We are looking forward to what happens next …