Tom Scott - Tom Scott & The L.A Express/Tom Cat/New York Conne [BGO Records - 2014]This two disc CD reissue offers up three 1970’s albums from respected US Sax player/ band-leader Tom Scott. The tone/vibe through out each of three albums is very much approachable, often groovy, and memorable Jazz fusion. And each album gets a new 2014 digital remastering.
Mr Scott is most known for his film & TV Work in the 70’s/80’s- with some of his TV credits been work for shows such as Starsky and Hutch, 6 Million Dollar Man & The Streets of San Francisco. And film work on the likes of Death Wish, Dirty Harry,The 9 Lives Of Fritz The Cat, Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes. Also in more mainstream/ pop side of things his suprone sax featured on 1975 Wings hit Listen to What the Man Said. As well as all his film, TV, ect work he also released 26 solo albums, as well as many band based projects- this 2014 reissue offer up three of them in the form of: Tom Scott & The LA Express, Tom Cat (both under the banner of Tom Scott & The LA Express), and New York Connection ( which was released under his solo name).
So first up on disc one we the album Tom Scott & The L.A. Express- this album originally appeared in 1974 on Ode label, but it has gone on to be reissued over the years in 12 different versions!. The album took in the line-up of: Tom Scott- Horns & Woodwinds, Max Bennett- Bass, Joe Sample- Keyboards, Larry Carlton- Guitar, and John Guerin- Percussion & Drums. It offered up ten tracks in all, and each track was a great example of groovy, strutting, and moody mixture of jazz, rock & funk. The pace is mostly up-beat & smoking, with all of the tracks retaining memorable & varied melody lines. There are a few more mellow & laid back moments like “Easy Living”, were the pace in slowed more of brisk, yet melodic & romantic stroll…but mostly things stay up-beat & swinging. Through-out the playing from each of the bands five members is effortless & polished- yet no-one(not even Scott himself) ever completely takes over- this is very much a group sound, with each player added their own sonic flair to the groovy & memorable fusion brew.
Up next we have Tom Cat- this album originally appeared in 1975, once again on the Ode label. And this album only Tom Scott, Max Bennett, and John Guerin from the pervious albums line-up. They were joined by Larry Nash- Electric Organ, Organ, ARP Synth. Robben Ford- Acostic & Electric Guitar, and Joni Mitchell for a vocal refrain on one track. Scott had also increased his instruments taking on Moog, Percussion & Lyricon. The album took in another nine tracks( on this reissue five on disc one & four on disc two)- these tracks once again were mostly up-beat & groovy in pace & style- maybe with even more funk ‘n’ swing in their step. This time around the melody lines are not as instant as the first album, and the instrumental interplays are a little more detailed- but it’s still an enjoyable ride through-out.
So last up we have New York Connection- this also appeared in 1975, and once again originally appeared on Ode. The line-up here was: Tom Scott- Saxophones(baritone & tenor), Flutes, Lyricon, Moog, ARP String ensemble, woodwinds. Hugh McCraken- Guitars, Slide guitars, Harmoinca. Eric Gale- solo guitar, guitars, bass. Gary King- bass. Steve Gadd- Drums. Ralph Mcdonald- percussion. Richard Tee- Keyboards. Bob James Electric Piano. Dick “Slyde” Hyde- trombone & bass trumpet. Chuck Findley- Trumpet. This album offered up another nine tracks, and following on from the trend of the last album there is a lot more instrumental interplay on these tracks, and I also guess the melodies are that little less instant again. That’s not to say this is a bad album by any means, I think the focus is less on the populous ear/ feel, and slightly more of the compositional layering of sound. Also I guess the moods/ pace are a little more varied here too(even with-in one track)…going from laid back & smooth, to slinky & mysterious, onto jiving & sexy, onto up groovy ‘n’ funky.
Coming with the set is a fat 20 page inlay booklet, which takes in full credits for all the three albums here. Along with a 14 page detailed new write-up about the three albums Record collector Jazz writer Charles Waring. All making this the definitive version of these releases.
I’d say if pushed the self Tom Scott & The L.A. Express would be my favourite album of the lot, as each track here is memorable, yet economically played….that said the other two albums have their moments of great-ness too, they are just not as wholly consistent. So in summing up if you’re a fan of well played, often memorable 70’s fusion this really is well worth a look.Roger Batty