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Scott Sawyer

Scott Sawyer displays his musical diversity like a badge of honor, re-visiting his blues & rock roots while continuing to explore the jazz tradition & beyond… – (Philip Van Vleck)

He’s performed at major festivals, concert halls, and beer-soaked dives here and abroad (Asia, Brazil, Canada, Central America, Europe, and the Middle East) including Monterey Jazz Festival (CA), Herbst Jazz Festival (Austria), St. Lucia Jazz Festival, Playboy Jazz, 2002 Silde Jazz (Norway); Ottawa Jazz Festival; Detroit Jazz Festival, Berlin Chamber Music Hall (Germany); the Blue Note (NYC); Joe’s Pub (NYC); Catalina Jazz Club (LA), to name a few.

Born in Chicago, Sawyer was introduced to jazz and other music at an early age via his father’s record collection, which included recordings by John Coltrane, Wes Montgomery, Miles Davis, Lou Rawls, Nancy Wilson and others. Jimi Hendrix caught his ear and that led to blues and blues/roots influenced rock. Mike Bloomfield, Paul Butterfield, Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson, Son Seals, Tim Buckley, The Doors, Tom Waits and so many others were early inspirations.

By the time he landed in Greensboro, NC as a junior in high school, Scott had lived in Texas, Maine, and Chicago-land. Already immersed in the Chicago blues, he was exposed to Southern roots/rock music and fusion. Eventually jazz became a priority. Guitarist Jim Hall caught his ear and sparked a deeper interest in jazz guitar and harmony. He landed a steady gig in Greensboro at “Sammy’s”, with vibraphonist Jon Metzger and bassist Charles Dungey that lasted a couple of years. A few lessons with John Scofield and Mick Goodrick added fuel to the fire. From 1984-1996 Sawyer’s trio and special guests performed most Wednesdays at the legendary Pyewacket (restaurant/bar) in Chapel Hill, NC.

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Album Review
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N&O/Owen Cordle; May 2007 Scott Sawyer, “Go There” - 3 1/2 Stars

This story originally appeared in the News & Observer (Raleigh) on May 6, 2007 AND online here:

If you know Raleigh guitarist Scott Sawyer from only his jazz gigs and tours with jazz singer Nnenna Freelon, “Go There” (Doll) opens a different door. Welcome to Scott Sawyer, the funk, rock, blues — and jazz — player. A comparison might be made to guitarists John Scofield and Bill Frisell, who also cast a wide net.

With a preponderance of Sawyer tunes, the album is all groove underneath

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Primary Instrument




Willing to teach

Intermediate to advanced


Lecturer of Jazz Guitar (University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill) Applied Jazz Guitar and Jazz Chamber (East Carolina University) Group Guitar (Durham Jazz Workshop) Private Instruction (availability is limited; detailed info provided when requested)

Clinic/Workshop Information

1. The Melody Is In The Chords. Scales don't tell the complete story, and they're not always so practical when confronted with rapidly shifting tonal centers

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Miles Davis
Bill Frisell
guitar, electric
Jim Hall
Jimi Hendrix
guitar, electric



Night Visions




Self Produced



Stash Records


Go There

Self Produced




Bill Frisell
guitar, electric
Hiram Bullock
guitar, electric
Robert Walter
organ, Hammond B3
Barry Finnerty
guitar, electric
Petra Haden
voice / vocals

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