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Great music and music talk at TEDxSomerville at the Armory yesterday! Michael J. Epstein was the house band and acted as Paul Shaffer to C. Todd's David Letterman. Marcus Santos rocked the place to the rafters. Echo Nest founder Brian Whitman blew minds with his new music distribution paradigm. Jenee Halstead serenaded with a glorious voice. Keith Whitman played live freely improvised electronic music.

Faculty recital

This week I got to perform at the Berklee Performance Center with some amazing singers -- my colleagues in the Voice Department! I'm so proud I get to work with these inspired, crazy talented people every single day. Alison Wedding Nichelle Mungo Aubrey Johnson Jeff Ramsay Gabrielle Goodman Jeannie Gagné ... and an amazing band of faculty and students. Way to go, guys.

Music teachers last forever

Don Brewer, my junior high school band teacher, died recently at the age of 87. In eighth grade, I had never played jazz on the trumpet before, but he asked for volunteers to take a solo and I stepped forward. My knowledge of jazz at the time was limited to seeing Dizzy Gillespie on TV, so I figured all you had to do was get up there and wiggle your fingers. I was atrocious. But Don was nothing but encouraging. Now I am a professional musician and teach improvisation at the college level. I doubt I am as supportive as Mr. Brewer was, but I hope that I can come close.

10 ways to support musicians

Everybody loves to download, rip, stream and otherwise obtain recorded music for cheap or free. Nobody likes paying more than they have to for stuff. But how can you can support the artists who performed, recorded, and manufactured those recordings? How can you encourage them to keep on making music for you to enjoy? Here are 10 easy ways, depending on your budget: 1. Throw a $5, $10 or $20 into the tip jar. The performers get a morale boost knowing they are appreciated. 2. Offer them that old amplifier, trumpet, piano or drumkit that has been gathering dust in your basement. 3. Buy an extra ticket for their show and bring a friend who has never seen the artist before. 4. Buy an extra CD (or 5, or 10) and give them to friends. You can ask the performer if they'll give you a volume discount. 5. Hire live musicians to perform at your private party or company event. It will make the event special and memorable to everyone there. 6. Take lessons on an instrument or voice from the artist. Most musicians also teach, and most enjoy working with motivated beginners. 7. Commission a song for a special occasion. This makes a one-of-a-kind gift which will be loved more and last longer than that kitchen gadget you were going to buy. 8. Host a house concert. Offer the performers a guaranteed minimum, and invite your friends to come listen. You can sell tickets or give them away. 9. Offer to take photos or video of the performers for their website. 10. Be a producer on the artist's next album by contributing $500, $1000, or $5000 toward expenses.

Christmas Zaniness

Last night was a hilarious night of music at the auditorium at the Marlborough Public Library. Syncopation performed holiday classics and a cappella favorites. But the best part of the night was the extemporaneous version of "Silent Night" done in the style of Marvin Gaye's "What's Goin' On". We also did "Rudolph" as a New Orleans second-line groove, and I told the story of a car trip gone horribly, horribly wrong as part of "Route 66". Thanks to all that made the night a big success, and thanks to the Marlboroughians (sp?) who packed the house despite the chilly wet weather.


Working on a project with the good folks over at Bopnique Musique: Anthony Resta and Karyadi Sutedja. The idea is a 6-song EP that features my singing, songwriting and keyboard playing. We have enlisted a lot of fine instrumentalists to put the material in the best possible light. It's starting to sound good. The days and nights have been a lot of hard work and attention to detail. You want it to be perfect, but not too perfect, you know? It's kind of funny talking about things like "natural" when you have every music production tool invented by modern science, but music (whether "machine-assisted" or not) is natural. Humans choose what to put a frame around. Humans create art by deciding what art is. The style of this music might be a surprise to some who have gotten to know me as a singer of jazz standards, but it doesn't feel like a departure of any kind. I love singing: classical, jazz, rock, whatever. I identify myself through my voice, and I like to keep my identity fluid so I don't get bored in life. Keep 'em guessing! I want people to enjoy this music. It doesn't matter if it doesn't fit in a genre section of a record store, because guess what? There are no record stores anymore. All that is left is people enjoying music and hopefully choosing to support the artists they enjoy in a monetary way, so the artists can keep on creating. Keep listening, and check back for updates.

The Hopeful Romantic Project

Hello Friends, It's been a while since I have promoted any solo shows. Next week I'm doing some shows that are very special, a new project of my original music. I'm calling it David Thorne Scott and the Hopeful Romantics. I have always written songs and tried to squeeze them in next to the jazz standards, but I've never done an entire show of original tunes until now. Frankly, I love discovering and interpreting great jazz songs so much, that I always felt my original songs didn't quite fit in. Some of them are straight-ahead jazz, but others have a more R&B sensibility that may surprise you. If I had to describe this music to you in brief, I would say: Jamie Cullum meets Don Draper. Sexy, jazzy, and confident. I'll be singing from the piano, and with me will be a band of exciting newcomers. Bassist Will Cafaro, guitarist Mark Hadley, and drummer Jazz Robertson are outstanding young musicians who are making names for themselves at Berklee. Next week you can see me in Cambridge at the Lily Pad, and at the New Hampshire Jazz Center in Laconia, NH. I'm also doing a show at at Ten Center in Newburyport with more jazz standards mixed in, but still some of my originals.

Advice to a young singer

I recently was asked for advice to a young singer who plans to attend Berklee in a year or two. I was very glad to get the request, because it is something I think about often, and I wish I could clear up some misconceptions before they take root. Here is the message I sent her... Take regular voice lessons and practice voice an hour a day. Not just learning songs, but emphasize vocal technique with an ear toward clarity of tone. STUDY PIANO. Start with the basics of 12 major scales, 12 x 3 minor scales, triads (arpeggios and inversions, major minor diminished augmented), seventh chords (arpeggios and inversions, major 7 minor 7, dominant 7, half-diminished 7, diminished 7). Practice at least an hour a day. Use a metronome. Listen to music for 45 minutes a day. Start with stuff you love, then search out the predecessors of that, and keep on going back in time. They say "mastery" takes 10,000 hours. Start putting in your time! Successful Berklee students are the ones who come in with an established work ethic and are passionate about music. We are pretty "style-agnostic" in the Berklee voice department, so someone who is intensely into gospel, or Bollywood pop, or Bulgarian choral music, or opera, or stone country all can find their niche here. LOVE what you do!

The Tribe Gathers

The tribe did not gather often. In the best of times, it was not the most powerful in the land. Now, in lean times, the tribe was scattered in order to find sustenance. Each elder, warrior, or farmer had to find shelter where he or she could. One elder put out the call to honor another elder. Each disparate branch of the tribe was asked to bring their most powerful magic to lay at the feet of this man. The elder to be honored was not a great leader or warrior or farmer. He was not a treaty-maker or wizard. This man's gift was the gift of listening. He listened to the cares of the young warrior who felt that his struggles had never been known before. He listened to the cry of the farmer who remembered fatter days. He listened to the rough voice of the weary traveler who had come home after learning that "all is all." Would anyone come to honor this elder? Would the gift of listening prove worthy of commemoration? Would the scattered members honor the feeling of validation they received when this elder took the time to hear their concerns? Yes. The tribe came and celebrated with food and drink and fire and song. They brought their fiercest spells and tenderest songs and wildest dances and loveliest stories. The elder listened and blessed their gifts, allowing his tears to flow only when the spirit of his departed father appeared. After the feast, the tribe scattered again. No one knew whether they would again gather. No one knew what might cause them to forget their immediate wants for an evening in order to pay tribute to an elder who did nothing but listen. But they all departed knowing that their stories were less than dust without a listener. They knew that the most precious gift anyone ever gave them was to listen. They knew that, for a while anyway, they would honor The Listener wherever he or she appeared. ----- Eric Jackson, thank you for thirty years of listening. Fred Taylor gathered the tribe to honor you and no one could hope for such a feast as the one he gave. The tribe is in your debt, and our gifts tonight are only a token offer for the value you have tendered us.

Music education

The Boston Arts Academy is an amazing place where students learn not only the nuts and bolts of music (in addition to a full academic courseload), but also how to express themselves and their values in society. Yesterday I got to work with several students (along with the master pianist Frank Wilkins) who had the courage to sing in front of their peers. They showed the results of their hard work and their budding artistry, conveying emotion as well as musical ideas.

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Next appearances

  • December 20, 2018
    Avery Bar, Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Boston, MA
  • December 20, 2018
    Avery Bar, Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Boston, MA
  • December 27, 2018
    Avery Bar, Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Boston, MA