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Tom Scott and the L.A. Express

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Album Review

Most of Tom Scott's GRP albums of the '80s and '90s have been shallow, formulaic releases offering little evidence of the saxman's improvisatory skills. But most of his earlier recordings of the '70s were appealing jazz/funk/R&B efforts that, although commercial and highly accessible, demonstrated his capabilities as a soloist. If the version of Scott's L.A. Express band heard on this album (reissued on CD in 1996) brings to mind the Crusaders, it's because two of its members, keyboardist Joe Sample and guitarist Larry Carlton, were also Crusaders members. Although the Express was never in a class with that band, it was a likable unit defined by its cohesiveness, warmth, and spontaneity. As slick as the Express was, it took risks. It's hard to imagine Scott providing a funk-drenched version of John Coltrane's "Dahomey's Dance" as he does here — or incorporating Middle Eastern influences as he does on "King Cobra" — on his calculated GRP recordings of the '90s. Solid jazz-funk like "L.A. Expression" and "Nunya" is well worth hearing. And "Spindrift," though congenial and mellow, is far more substantial than the Muzak with which he would later inundate us.


Born: 19 May 1948 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Since he was a teenager, Tom Scott has been consistent, a talented multi-reedist with little or no interest in playing creative jazz. His mother was a pianist and father a composer. Scott early on became a studio musician and arranger. Able to play most reeds with little difficulty, Scott performed with the Don Ellis and Oliver Nelson bands, and his L.A. Express became one of the most successful pop-jazz groups of the 1970s. Associations with Joni Mitchell, Carole King, and George Harrison were just...
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Tom Scott and the L.A. Express, Tom Scott
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