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Great Scott: The Multifaceted Genius of Bobby Scott

Christopher Loudon on the unheralded late singer

Bobby Scott CD cover

Bobby Scott was the Orson Welles of jazz. His prodigious talents, largely realized at a remarkably early age, were manifold: vocalist, pianist, vibraphonist and composer. He was an equally accomplished arranger, and could also play cello, bass, clarinet and accordion. Yet, unlike the outsized Welles whose genius was (and remains) loudly trumpeted, Scott never achieved more than a smidgen of the fame he deserved, his legacy now all but forgotten. Mention, for instance, his marvelous vocal capabilities and most people assume you mean either Jimmy Scott or Bobby Short.

A native New Yorker, born in 1937, Scott was classically trained (among his teachers was Edward Moritz, a former student of Debussy) but developed a youthful passion for jazz. By age eleven he was playing piano professionally and spent portions of his teen years touring with Tony Scott (no relation), Louis Prima and Gene Krupa, with whom he cut a few sides in the early 1950s.

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