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Tony Scott

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.”

By the end of the 1940s, the swing style popularized by Benny Goodman was on the wane, and the clarinet was falling out of favor as a jazz instrument. Mr. Scott persevered, touring Sweden, South Africa, Senegal, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan and elsewhere. His 1964 album “Music for Zen Meditation” (Verve), a collaboration with traditional Japanese musicians, is considered an early example of New Age music.

Among his other albums are “The Touch of Tony Scott” (RCA Victor, 1956); “The Modern Art of Jazz” (Seeco, 1957); “Tony Scott in Afrika” (A World of Music, 1997); and “A Jazz Life” (Kind of Blue), scheduled for release next month.

Anthony Joseph Sciacca " his family name is pronounced “Shaka” " was born on June 17, 1921, in Morristown, N.J., to parents who had come from Sicily. His father was a barber and amateur guitarist; his mother played the violin. He began playing the clarinet at 12 and in 1942 earned a diploma from the Juilliard School.

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