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New Music For Bowed Piano

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Album Review

When this recording was originally released on LP in 1983, it attracted lots of attention for composer Stephen Scott, who had figured out several ways to actually "bow" the strings of a piano, creating long, sustained tones rather than the percussive tones generally associated with that instrument. One of the pieces here, the surpassingly lovely "Resonant Resources," requires the use of an electromagnetic device and can be performed by a single person. The others, though, are all performed by an ensemble of players who crowd around the open box of the piano, pulling nylon fishing line through the strings or rubbing them with Popsicle sticks and emery boards. The resulting sound is neither abrasive nor particularly challenging to the uninitiated ear — it's something like a cross between a violin and a saxophone. Scott's compositions are mostly quite tonal and while obviously informed by the minimalism of Steve Reich (and, to a lesser extent, Philip Glass), some are also quite harmonically rich. Highlights include the shimmery "Rainbows I" and "Resonant Resources," which mixes the electromagnetic bowing technique with standard keyboard playing.


Born: 13 March 1969 in Queens, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '80s, '90s

Another in the latter-day parade of tradition-respecting "young lions," Stephen Scott brings a formidable technique, some of Ahmad Jamal's locked-groove obsessions, and elements of Wynton Kelly, Bud Powell, and McCoy Tyner to his work. However, Scott showed he could expand beyond his neo-bop base on The Beautiful Thing, an album with pronounced Latin and soul-jazz tendencies on some tracks. He started piano at the age of five, and progressed rapidly to the point where he was taking private lessons...
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New Music For Bowed Piano, Stephen Scott
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