Scott Sherwood

Praised by critics and peers alike for the fluidity, warmth, and expressiveness of his sound, Scott Sherwood was both a lyrical musician and a talented composer. His rich and subtle playing and his sophisticated compositions reach both listeners dedicated to the jazz art form and those who say that they don’t usually like jazz.
MILWAUKEE and TEXAS: Scott was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but did not begin to study guitar seriously until he was a teenager. He initially became fascinated with jazz and improvisation through his father’s record collection. After his family moved to San Antonio,Texas, in his sophomore year of high school, Scott decided to try out for his new school’s jazz band. Despite the fact that he was a fairly new self-taught guitarist, he was enthusiastically accepted into the program. Recognizing a true natural talent, Scott’s band director set him up with local jazz guitarist Johnny Frisco for his first formal lessons in guitar and jazz.
Within a year Scott had captured attention for his performances. While still in high school, he received the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award for three consecutive years and was voted IAJE Overall Outstanding Musician at the University of Texas at Arlington Jazz Festival, Kingsville Jazz Festival, and Fiesta Stage Band Festival. He went on to briefly attend the University of Texas at Arlington under two scholarships: the Michael Lorimer Guitar Scholarship and the Jazz Studies Scholarship. Disappointed in the low level of jazz education and guitar he was receiving, Scott decided that, like the players he most admired, he would seek out his education on the bandstand.
BACK TO MILWAUKEE: Returning to Milwaukee to begin his professional playing career, Scott played with the band Kinetic Shower, which during his tenure was nominated by the Wisconsin Music Industry (WAMI) for Jazz Artists of the Year. He was an active player gigging most nights and playing with the area’s best musicians including guitarist Jack Grassel, drummer Terry Smirl (the drummer on his first album), and trombonist/composer Bill Schaefgen. Scott often told the story of being star struck when he got the opportunity to play with Melvin Rhyne, organist to Wes Montgomery. Rhyne encouraged Scott, calling him a “tasty player for a white boy.”
BACK TO TEXAS: In 1990, Scott returned to Texas to further his education at the University of Texas at Austin. While there he earned a Downbeat Magazine Award for Outstanding Performance at the college level. After gigging around Austin, playing festivals such as South by Southwest, as well as concerts and clinics in the United States, Costa Rica, and Scotland, Scott recorded his first album, Siren Song, with drummer Terry Smirl and bass player Harold Miller. Around this time Scott and his wife, Jennifer, decided to move to the East Coast.
PHILADELPHIA: Philadelphia was another turning point in Scott’s musical development. He struck up a friendship with one of Philadelphia’s jazz guitar icons, Steve Giordano; the pair spent countless hours together playing, performing, and recording. During a gig in Philadelphia, Scott also met guitarist John Abercrombie, who became both his teacher and a life-long friend. Additionally, Scott took a series of lessons with other iconic guitar players including Randy Roos, Steve Khan, and one of his personal heroes Jim Hall. Just as importantly, he began to play with drummer Paul Hannah and bass player Mike Nunno forming The Scott Sherwood Trio and recording a second album, Peaks and Valleys. The title was a personal joke for Scott; John Abercrombie had told Scott that he wanted him to focus on creating more peaks and valleys in his playing.
NEW YORK CITY: In 1998 Scott and Jennifer moved to New York City. Playing with different area musicians, including Steve LaSpina (a bass player he greatly admired), Scott continued to stretch himself musically while struggling to establish himself in the iconic city. In 2004 Scott met pianist Bob Rodriguez, another influential musician in his development. At the top of his musical game yet still never satisfied, Scott continued to unrelentingly push himself.
CANCER: Things took a dark turn in 2005 when Scott was diagnosed with Stage II non-Hodgkins large B cell lymphoma, for which he endured an aggressive course of chemotherapy. Back on the scene and coping with the aftermath of cancer, Scott did what he did best: composed music, played, and taught at the now defunct Turtle Bay Music School on Third Avenue in midtown Manhattan. In 2008 Scott and Bob Rodriguez recorded a guitar and piano duo album, which Scott named Ripples as a reference to his feelings about the effects of cancer on his music and his life. The album was released in November 2008 on Art of Life Records, the same month that Scott’s cancer returned in an aggressive form. He endured more bouts of chemotherapy, beating the cancer back in order to receive a non-autologous stem cell transplant. After his release from hospital, the cancer returned within weeks. Scott underwent high dose radiation on the tumor in his neck, which left him unable to speak. Again, the cancer returned, and Scott decided to enter an experimental trial in what he called his “hail Mary pass.” Throughout his treatments his main concern was to keep his ability to play unaffected. And he did, sitting in his hospital room propped up with his guitar he would play for hours defying his fatigue, pain, and illness and bringing a smile to the oncology ward residents and staff of New York Presbyterian hospital 6HN. During his illness Scott worked with luthier Eric Brown of New England Custom Guitars to create his “perfect” guitar, which he received several weeks before he died. Scott kept the guitar out where he could see it and played it as often as his stamina allowed. He and Jennifer knew the end was close when tumors inhibited his ability to move his fingers and his guitar finally fell silent. He died as he lived–.with grace, music, humility, and courage and his loving wife, Jennifer, near him. It has been left to his wife, family, and friends to keep Scott’s musical legacy alive.