CD review

Tommy Scott Trio – “Going For It”

Tommy Scott Trio – Going For It

(Tommy Scott Music – CD review by Mark McKergow)

This extraordinary CD sees the re-emergence of British piano wizard Tommy Scott, back on the scene 20 years after being a teen prodigy.  Scott teams up with double bassist Yuri Goloubev and drummer Asaf Sirkis for eleven originals; the performances ripple with musical dexterity and brilliance.

Two decades ago, Tommy Scott, was the remarkable new kid on the jazz block.  Mentored by Joey Calderazzo, Tommy was sitting in with Tomorrow’s Warriors and studying with Jason Rebello in his early teens. He performed top great acclaim at Cheltenham and Brecon Jazz Festivals in 1998, garnering praise from John Fordham in the process.  He was mentored by Danilo Perez, applauded by Wayne Shorter and Elvin Jones, transcribed endless jazz piano solos, and then…

Tommy withdrew from the musical limelight for personal reasons.  Now based in Cheltenham, he is now very firmly back with undimmed enthusiasm and even bigger musical chops.  This debut CD sees Scott tackling eleven of his own tunes in the company of top-class rhythm section.  Yuri Goloubev is a giant of the double bass, a classical musician who turned to jazz with well over a dozen album as leader/co-leader and countless appearances as a sideman with the likes of Gwilym Simcock and Tim Garland.  Asaf Sirkis is likewise no stranger to the pages of LJN, also a prolific performer with his own trio and many others. That Tommy Scott can gather musical sparring partners of this calibre is a sign that he’s to be taken very seriously.

Musically, it’s clear that Tommy Scott has been listening carefully to people like Herbie Hancock and Kenny Kirkland, and likes to explode with his left hand in the vein of McCoy Tyner. In line-up terms this is a straight piano trio (no synths, no electric bass, no loops), but in musical terms it’s a trip to the moon and back.  The compositions are rich in variety and construction, with pulsing rapid-fire tunes like First Of A Kind moving from section to section in a way which keeps the rhythm players well on their toes.  Naturally they rise to the challenge, and the results are intense and sustained – rather like trying to take a sip from a fire hose.  Tommy Scott’s fluency put me in mind (to take a sax metaphor) of Tubby Hayes’ tenor playing, notes pouring forth in well-formed phrases without apparent pause or end.  All three musicians are totally engaged and loving it, as the collection of videos from the sessions show (see below).

There are, thankfully, some quieter moments where the listener can take a breather and recharge.  Yuri Goloubev take a couple of truly beautiful passages on arco double bass, his tone making the bass speak like a cello.  Close Connection starts with such a solo before launching into an slow-motion tango-esque melody where Scott’s simple phrasing shows that he can really pick a line.   Perfect Limitations lilts along as a waltz, starting delicately before picking up power and a feature passage for Sirkis on drums. The musicians don’t so much solo as come forward and back – all three are audible the vast majority of the time, and they pass the musical parcel with sensitivity in a display of combined intent and intuition.

This is a remarkable album and needs to be heard.  I slightly wish they’d included a standard along with the originals, it would be revealing to hear what this line-up would make of, say, Caravan or Yesterdays.  I hope that Tommy Scott can go on from this outstanding debut to work with other world-class musicians who will really push him and challenge him; there is surely even more to come.  The album is on iTunes, Spotify and Amazon Music amongst other platforms.

More information and videos of most of the tracks in performance are HERE. 

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