Leon Scott was considered one of the grand old men of classic jazz trumpet on the Chicago scene from the '50s up through the '70s, health problems finally forcing his lips away from an obviously beloved mouthpiece. Upon retiring, his total experience in years had passed the half-century mark, his early training combining family tradition with the wisdom of legendary early American music teachers such as John Whatley and Major N. Clark-Smith. On the former front, a father toted a baritone horn around to wherever such a device was deemed necessary in Birmingham, AL, near the end of the 19th century.
As a jazzman, the younger Scott began marking territory following his move to the Windy City in the early '20s. By the middle of that decade Scott was part of the brass section in a band led by Lester Boone. Gigs followed with Tiny Parham, Sammy Stewart, Walter Barnes, and Earl Moss; as the latter bandleader's surname suggests, something would be steadily growing and that was Scott's reputation, his trumpet sound first exposed to European audiences during a Moss tour of France and Belgium. Remaining true to Chicago as a home base in the '30s, Scott worked with some of the best modern jazz outfits of the day, collaborating brilliantly with leaders such as Horace Henderson, Jimmie Noone, and Earl Hines.
An attractive change of climate is in store for classic jazz buffs sniffing after Scott's developing career, depending of course upon receptivity to vicarious experience. The trumpeter went to Hawaii for the first half of the '40s, establishing himself in the bands of both Andrew Blakeney and Eddie Sereno and remaining forevermore a part of the Hawaiian jazz legacy. Scott would eventually return to Chicago, where he remained until his death in 1974. Los Angeles was an intermittent stop along the way back from the islands. Scott's most interesting involvement there was with saxophonist, composer, and bandleader Benny Carter. The trumpeter's most regular companion in his final Chicago years was Franz Jackson, European audiences once again getting to enjoy the trumpeter during a series of tours in the second half of the '60s.