20 Questions with Jeff Scott

Jeff Scott is the Associate Professor of Horn at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, hornist of the Imani Winds, a former member of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Dance Theater of Harlem orchestras and has performed numerous times with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra under the direction of Wynton Marsalis. Additionally, Mr. Scott was an orchestra member for The Lion King’s Broadway run from 1997 to 2005, as well as the 1994 revival of Show Boat. In the studio, Scott has performed on movie soundtracks by Terence Blanchard, Hans Zimmer and Tan Dun, and has collaborated with the likes of the late Chick Corea, Wayne Shorter, Chris Brubeck, Jimmy Heath, and others. He has toured with the backing ensembles of Barbra Streisand and Luther Vandross. Insatiable in his appetite for all aspects of the creative process, Scott has served as composer or arranger for a multitude of projects, including an Off Broadway production of Becoming Something: The Story of Canada Lee and the staged production of Josephine Baker: A Life of le Jazz Hot! in addition to many original works for solo winds and ensembles of all kinds. Scott is a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music, where he studied under David Jolley. He earned a master’s degree from the State University of New York at Stony Brook under William Purvis, and he continued his studies with Scott Brubaker and Jerome Ashby.

1. What was your first instrument and how old were you when you started?

An Eb Mellophone played with pistons on the right hand, but I thought it was the French Horn. My band director told me it was. Probably because it was easier to start on. I changed to the French horn after 6 months.

2. Could you describe what would be your perfect day? 

Late morning coffee. I get all my practicing, composing and family time in and then play my Monday night poker game with my buddies. 

3. Most memorable performance?

With Imani Winds as part of Wayne Shorter’s Carnegie Hall birthday celebration. 

4. Significant teachers/mentors in your life?

My first teacher, Carolyn Clark who taught me for free through high school. Jerome Ashby, the man who ‘fixed’ me. Bill Brown (French horn) my musical Uncle. My college private teachers, William Purvis, David Jolley and Scott Brubaker because of whom I have no excuse to EVER SUCK! 

5. Something you’ve been meaning to try, but just haven’t gotten around to it?

Preparing a complete Thanksgiving dinner. 

6. Favorite symphony?

Tchaikovsky 4th Symphony. 

7. When was the last time you cried, and why?

When Jerome Ashby died. He was too young. 

8. If money was no object, what would you buy?

An abandoned multiplex theater and convert it to an Elbphilharmonie Hamburg type facility for jazz and classical music with restaurants. 

9. One thing most people don’t know about you?

I wanted to be a baseball player way more than a classical Musician. 

10. Opera or ballet?

Either.

11. First job?

I organized and catalogued the instruments for an instrument repairman in Queens, NY. 

12. Favorite sports team?

Yankees. 

13. If you could invite one person to dinner tonight, who would it be?

My buddy, Greg Smith.

14. Coffee or Tea?

Coffee.

15. Favorite book?

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. 

16. Favorite movie?

The Shawshank Redemption

17. Siblings?

None. 

18. Favorite piece to play?

Poulenc Sextet. 

19. Least favorite piece to play?

Don’t have one. 

20. Dogs or cats?

Both, but I’d take a dog first.

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