Tom Scott

Rural Still Life

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This 1968 LP from the early days of jazz fusion lacks the seamless merging of styles that would mark the commercial success of Tom Scott's later career. Instead, the 19-year-old reed player and the members of his quartet careen all over the style map -- with varying degrees of success. The title track piles on electronic effects that turn Scott's saxophone work and Mike Lang's keyboard playing into abrasive quacking. Scott's "Freak In" continues the indiscriminate gimmickry, masking the respectable talents of the quartet. "Juss Messin' Around" is a faceless piece of mainstream jazz, while the lightweight treatment given "Body and Soul" trivializes a standard that has long been a rite of passage for sax players. On a more promising note, Scott's mid-tempo "Song #1" has an original melody and ambitious arrangement, including an effective overdubbed woodwind choir. This track, along with Scott's "With Respect to Coltrane" -- a satisfying piece of modal hard bop -- helps redeem the session somewhat. At the time of this recording, Scott was already a fixture of the Los Angeles studio scene. As he makes clear on Rural Still Life, jazz was -- and would remain -- a side interest only.

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