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Album Review

Target is one of those Tom Scott records that gets forgotten about a lot. Certainly it comes from the middle of the 1980s just before the GRP era, when Scott was still leading the Saturday Night Live Band on occasion and looking around for a new sound. It's the sound of a restless musician who gets the pop game, or at least has gotten it and is not sure of where to shift his focus next. The band is big and full of killer players: Harvey Mason, Ernie Watts, Ian Underwood, Victor Feldman, Paul Jackson, Neil Stubenhaus, Jim Horn, Trevor Feldman, Pete Christlieb, and Michael Boddicker, among others. The sound is a tad warmer than what Atlantic was releasing at the time, too. But the material, as good as some of it is — like the funky title track — also contains half-hearted pop ballads like "Come Back to Me" with Kenny James on vocals. "He's Too Young," with a fine vocal performance by Maria Muldaur, is marred by a terribly dated — and it was for the time — synth drum sound. There is also a truly bizarre moment when Lee Ving, former lead singer of Los Angeles hardcore band Fear raps and plays blues harmonica on "Gotta Get out of New York." Then there's "Lollipoppin'" which, while it contains the same dumb synth drum sound, also has some killer Rhodes by Feldman, synth work by Underwood, and a happening keyboard bassline. The grooving muted horn section on this reading of Dan Peck's "The Biggest Part of Me," has a wonderfully soulful feel with great kit work by Mason. The horn arrangements are in the pocket but restrained, allowing that lithe melody to shine through and, along with the title cut, it's a contender for best tune on the set. The set closes with the stone-gone funky groover "Burundi Bump" by Scott and Feldman with excellent basslines, pulsing Rhodes work, a boatload of percussion, and Mason running the ensemble from his kit; the entire tune is rhythm based. So Target is, ultimately, a mixed bag, a hold-over record that was throwing everything at the wall to see what worked. Interestingly, what did was the basis for Scott's sound at GRP.


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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Target, Tom Scott
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