“I have more to say.” ~ Scott Sherwood
Scott was a natural musician. It wouldn’t be going too far to say that he lived, breathed, and ate music. It was woven into the fabric of our relationship from the moment we met. As his wife, I spent countless hours listening as he experimented with sound. He was on a quest. He wanted to express himself through the guitar without encumbrance. He sought a sound that existed in his head and which he dedicated himself to releasing. It was vocal, flexible, sinuous, and without pick attack. He drove himself, always searching, always experimenting, never satisfied, and never willing to compromise. Scott was never happier (and sometimes never unhappier) than when he had a guitar in his hands.
Tunes (he would never refer to his compositions by any other name) seemed to come to him as if he were picking up a frequency that already existed somewhere in the universe. He would sit and noodle on the guitar. When he had finished writing he would tell me that the tune would disappear completely from his consciousness, and he would worry that it wouldn’t return. But it always did. He left behind a lot of music.
Scott died of lymphoma. It was a grueling, painful, and slow death that played out from November 2008 to August 2009. Throughout his illness music anchored him. He worked with a new luthier while undergoing a stem cell transplant. Together they designed a jazz guitar now named the Scott Sherwood model. Scott’s goal was, as always, to find a way to express himself even more fluidly. When confined in the ICU of Cornell hospital he kept his sanity by working with a nurse who revealed that she was also a visual artist. Together they looked at colors for his new guitar ultimately choosing a rich red. As sick as he was, I could help him sit up and put the guitar in his hands; he would play for hours. It drove the nurses crazy because the pickup from the guitar would trigger his heart monitors, and they would come running. Finally, they gave up and took the monitors off.
Scott had a wry sense of humor and a humility that would never allow him to acknowledge how truly gifted he was. He just loved music. At the beginning of his illness he had just released a duo album called Ripples. The tunes on that album were the way he processed the trauma of his first bout with lymphoma. One day, towards the end of his illness, Scott looked at me and said, “I didn’t want Ripples to be the end. I have more to say.” It broke my heart.
So when in the midst of the Covid madness Paul Hannah reached out to say that he had been going through old recordings and wanted to release them I thought “yes’. The tunes and playing are from a different world, and I know that Scott would be self-critical of these recordings. But the truth is that he did have more to say, and we want to hear it. ~Jennifer Sherwood Gaul
The Scott Sherwood Trio’s performance at the University of Rhode Island Jazz Festival in Kingston, R. I., in 1996 was a seminal moment for the three of us. It was the first gig we ever had as a unit.
I’d met Scott in Austin, Texas, on the bandstand of the legendary Austin venue The Elephant Room on a Monday night jam session in August 1993. I was living in Austin checking out the jazz scene and putting my name out. Scott and I both sat in that night and we clicked like long lost brothers. We played together a number of times during the four months I lived in Austin. We did quartet and quintet gigs with a number of Austin jazz cats: Dave Morgan, Eli Haslanger, Mike Mordechai, and others.
Shortly after, I moved back to the East Coast and resumed playing music with my friend Mike Nunno around the Conn/N.Y./N.J, scene. Mike and I played every type of gig imaginable together including biker bars, the Fairfield University Glee Club, blues dates with men and women from the Deltas and Chitlin circuit, wedding bands, big bands, jazz trios, singer/songwriters and more. Scott moved to the East Coast a year after I had and gave me a call as he was heading east. He sent me a CD he had done with his guys in Milwaukee called Siren Song, and I loved it so much I called him while the first track was playing to say, “we have to play together in a trio, and I know the perfect bassist–Mike Nunno!”
The three of us got together one afternoon at my house in Milford, Conn., and it was magic from the get-go. It sounded as if one musician was playing three instruments simultaneously! “Wow!” I thought, “we are so fortunate to have a group like this! Musicians are very, very lucky to get this kind of thing once in a lifetime!”
Within a very short period of time Scott and his wife, Jennifer, got the trio booked as part of the University of Rhode Island Jazz Festival in 1996. Bang! We were off and running!
What you’ll hear on this recording is original, adventurous jazz. This recording exists as a result of amazing serendipity. Unbeknownst to us on that very night a University of Rhode Island student, Mike Sartini, set up his DAT recorder and pressed the record button. It was to our good fortune, and I believe yours as the listener as well.
It has been a long time since the three of us created this recording. Mike and I still play together as often as we can, but The Scott Sherwood Trio now exists only in our memories and in the recordings we made along our journey together. Sadly, Scott Sherwood died in 2009. I feel his loss every day. Much of the best music I have ever made in my 40-year musical career was made in concert, pun intended, with my truly musical brothers, Scott and Mike. ~ Paul Hannah