Tony Scott, a distinguished jazz clarinetist who in the 1950s helped steer his instrument out of the swing era and into the sax-infested waters of bebop. With Buddy DeFranco, Mr. Scott was considered one of the leading bebop clarinetists. (The two men were often described as the only major clarinetists to take on bebop, a style thought to be incompatible with the instrument’s soft, sweet sound.) Mr. Scott, who also played the saxophone, performed and recorded with some of the titans of mid-20th- century jazz, among them Duke Ellington, Ben Webster, Sarah Vaughan and Billie Holiday.
If Mr. Scott was not widely known to the American public, it was partly because his eclectic style made him unclassifiable: over the years, he ranged through bebop and what today would be called New Age and world music. It was also because he was peripatetic: for decades he roamed the globe, clarinet in hand. He had lived mostly abroad since the late ’50s.
Mr. Scott was also well regarded as a composer and arranger. His composition “Blues for Charlie Parker,” which he created extemporaneously at a concert in Yugoslavia in 1957, became his most- requested number. He also arranged hits like “The Banana Boat Song (Day-O)” for Harry Belafonte.
In a profile of Mr. Scott in The New York Times in 1967, John S. Wilson described him “playing his clarinet in his own uncompromisingly distinctive manner, a manner which encompasses both a feathery, light-as-air impressionism and an intense, emotional ferocity that makes the old-time ‘hot’ men sound as though they were blowing icicles.”