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Hazel Scott

Though she didn't call it third stream, and it wasn't associated with the genre, Hazel Scott was another musician who found a successful way to blend jazz and classical influences. Scott took classical selections and improvised on them, a practice dating back to the ragtime era. Such numbers as "Hungarian Rhapsody, no. 2" (Liszt) backed by "Valse in D Flat Major, op. 64 no. 1" (Chopin) were audience favorites, even if some critics suggested they smacked of gimmickry (which sometimes they did). Scott was also a good bebop soloist, nice ballad interpreter, fair blues player, and underrated vocalist. Her nightclub act was often more appealing than her albums, where the absence of mitigating circumstances like an audience and club setting resulted in her compositions getting more scrutiny than they could stand. Scott studied classical piano at Juilliard from the age of eight, while also playing jazz in clubs. She became an attraction at downtown and uptown branches of Cafe Society in the late '30s and early '40s. Scott had her own radio show in 1936, appeared on Broadway in 1938, and was in five films during the '40s, among them Rhapsody in Blue. She wrote such songs as "Love Comes Softly" and "Nightmare Blues." Scott later had her own television show and was married to Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Their highly visible, high-profile relationship degenerated under the heat of a nationwide obsession with Powell's activities, influence, and behavior, finally ending in divorce. Scott recorded for Decca, Signature, Tioch, and Columbia, but made her finest jazz album for Charles Mingus' Debut label, Relaxed Piano Moods, in 1955. Mingus and Max Roach joined Scott on this session. It's her only date currently available on CD.
© Ron Wynn and Michael G. Nastos /TiVo


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