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Feb 14, 2010 - Rudy Scott- The Quiet Melody

by: KAREN SHADE Tulsa World Scene Writer Sunday, February 14, 2010 2/14/2010 7:02:55 AM "You've never heard me play?" Most people late to Tulsa or born after a certain decade have not had the pleasure, unless they're musicians or singers. That's how Rudy Scott is floating in a pool of sound and rhythm, just waiting to be cued for his solo. Everybody wants a better view of the man with the deep voice in the black dress hat and long, dark leather coat behind the keyboard.

In fact, it baffles the 75-year-old Tulsa jazz and blues man why anyone would want to write a story about him. He talks about the bands he's played in, the cities he's lived in and old Tulsa days like few can tell it. He runs through facts as if he'd spent some time recalling them in the days since he granted the interview a measure of preparedness for an event he never saw coming.

Scott eventually makes his way to a piano, lucky for us, unlocked. Then he places his long fingers over the keys. Out comes a melody, "Search Me Lord." 

"That was a church song," he said afterward. "That's what I played at my mama's funeral."

She taught the song to him, knowing that the son who began playing by ear at age 2 could pick up anything. But she didn't play it the way Scott does, full of ironic harmonies, melancholy chords mixed with joyous notes for when the roll is called up yonder.

Then he plays straight blues. A group of high school students and their teachers walk in the front door chatting, but he doesn't seem to notice what's happening behind him. Scott's gaze seems to go from the keys to the wall ahead, but then he's not really looking at the wall. He's looking at where he's been rather than where he is physically at the moment.

Perhaps he's thinking of his years playing with Taft native Ernie Fields and his big band orchestra. Scott played with Fields when he was only a youth himself. Born and raised in Waco, Texas, he'd just left the Navy and was playing in Lawton when he was asked to join.

The teens quiet and, after a little beckoning, approach the piano as he finishes. That's when Chuck Cissel, the hall of fame executive director, walks up to the piano and asks him to play "Route 66." Cissel sings. Scott keeps playing, then finally notices his larger audience as if coming out of a trance. It's not likely the kids have ever seen an old master up this close before, and they seem to like it.

"That was awesome," a girl tells him later.

Scott doesn't think of it as awesome. He's just living what he always has the life of a musician. And for him, the road keeps going on.

Source: Tulsa World "Keynotes" profiles Tulsa's living jazz legends. Contact Karen Shade at 581-8334, or karen.shade@tulsaworld.com 





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