Randy Scott is a consummate producer, composer and musician; he has performed and recorded with numerous luminaries including, Anita Baker, Patti Labelle and Randy Crawford.
He is a three-time winner of It's Showtime At The Apollo, Winner of The Hennesy Jazz Search and protégé of his friend and mentor, the late Grover Washington, Jr. He is a dedicated teacher to middle school students and assists them on their musical journey and most importantlyhe does everything from the heart. His career is ever-flourishing and the best is yet to come.
AAJ Contributor Katrina-Kasey Wheeler spoke with Scott about his release, Breathe (MegaWave Records, 2007), and his dedication to his students.
All About Jazz: Who were your musical influences growing up?
Randy Scott: All of my friends were into Prince and artists like that. I however, was totally into Grover Washington's music.
AAJ: Did you come from a musical family? Was there anyone in your family that encouraged you to play music? How did you become interested in playing the saxophone?
RS: I started playing when I was about eight years old. My mother would put on his [Grover Washington's] albums and she encouraged me to play the saxophone. Not long after I selected the instrument, I was able to go to one of his concerts. At that time, I was living in Philadelphia, and the first time I saw him, I was blown away. I knew that that was what I wanted to do. We spoke when I was about twelve years old. I helped him produce a commercial for the Red Cross and we remained friends, he became my mentor up until his passing [in 1999]. The nice thing was that whenever he was in town, he would ask me to come up and play with him. He was by far, my greatest musical influence. I also really love and respect John Coltrane.
AAJ: I think it is amazing for you to have had such a wonderful opportunity. Your mother was very supportive of your choice to become involved with music.
RS: My brother sings and plays the piano, but we are the only musicians in the entire family.
AAJ: You are the winner of the nationally televised, It's Showtime at the Apollo, and winner of the Hennessy Jazz Search; how did all that come about?
RS: Actually I was at Michigan State at the time that the Apollo thing happened. I was there on a classical music scholarship. I started to get into jazz. I opened up a couple of shows for Sinbad the comedian. He suggested that I try and get on the show and at that time he was the host for the show. I made it onto the show and the funny thing about that experience is that, the show doesn't pay for your trip to New York, your lodging or anything. I was a college studentand it is crazy, but what I did is, I made flyers and posted them around the campus that said, "I will write your Valentine a song. Since Valentine's Day was approaching, it was perfect!
People would call me and set up appointments. I would walk through the snow with a radio and my instrument; I was going around everyone's dorms and playing for five dollars a song. That paid my way to New York.
AAJ: That is very resourceful. What a great idea to put your talent to use.
RS: It absolutely was. Not long after that, I sent in an audition tape to the Hennessy Jazz Search of myself and the band that I was playing with. We were accepted and it blew me away. But the Apollo thing is one of the scariest experiences. Everything that happens on the show is edited, so a lot of what happens is never shown on the televised show; so it is all the more terrifying. I didn't care if I won or not, I just didn't want to get booed.
AAJ: Has being in the Detroit area at all influenced you and the music that you create? So many great talents have been from the Detroit area.
RS: I am from Baltimore and I ended up staying in Michigan as a result of going to college in the area. I have been more influenced by musicians in Detroit than anywhere else. The musicians here are extremely talented and it is a shame that a lot of them are unheard of by the majority of people. A lot of them are better than some of the big name artists that are widely known. I am also influenced by the gospel side of things. I had the pleasure of working and going to school with J. Moss. I have also worked with Fred Hammond and Kirk Franklin, and out of that experience I have just received two gold records and three platinum records. The gospel side of things has therefore been a large influence on my music, especially from an emotional standpoint.
AAJ: You can hear that gospel influence on Breathe. What was your vision for this album?
RS: The main thing that I wanted to do was put together a CD that I would buy. Therefore, this album definitely comes from my heart. It reflects where I am in my life. Most of the songs are up-tempo and that is a direct reflection of the way that I currently feel. For example, I have a daughter who is three years old and she brings me so much joy. When I was recording the record she was only one year old. Her first two words were, "daddy and "bye-bye, so I recorded that and put that into "Morgan's Interlude.