Since 1980, Berklee Professor Maggie Scott (pictured above) has hosted Jazz Vocal Night, an annual student recital where she handles all aspects of the event, from auditioning the performers to accompanying them on piano. Many of Scott’s former students who appeared in the show have gone on to distinctive careers. On Thursday, December 8, five of them—Esperanza Spalding, Nadia Washington, Antonia Bennett, Lalah Hathaway and Robin McKelle—will return to Berklee to pay tribute to their mentor at “Celebrating Maggie Scott: 30 Years of Jazz Vocal Night.”
Scott and her guests will perform jazz standards, and video of alumnae from past Jazz Vocal nights will be shown during each artist’s introduction. The concert band features faculty members Tim Ray on piano, Terri Lyne Carrington on drums and Jon Lockwood on bass. Concert co-producer Greg Hopkins plans to have additional instrumentalists—including students—play on some tunes.
“I am truly honored and overwhelmed that this concert is happening,” says Scott. “The recognition for my love of jazz and my work with the students, I feel I am being appreciated and respected for what I do and teach. That is a great feeling!”
Scott is a veteran jazz pianist, vocalist, recording artist and Julliard alumna who has been performing for six decades. She has mentored countless rising talents since coming to Berklee in 1978 to teach voice, stressing repertoire in her classes and encouraging students to develop a sense of style. “Maggie was more than a teacher to me,” says McKelle. “She taught me the importance of the lyric, the melody, and the swing feel and how they all work together. She respects the tradition of jazz and where this great American art form came from. I’m honored to be a part of this performance.”
“The performers chosen to pay tribute to me is a very special group of talented, wonderful musicians and singers that have worked very hard to become successful,” says Scott. “I shared many wonderful moments working with them. I do have a certain amount of satisfaction seeing and hearing the results of the many lessons and rehearsals they all went through, and I’m very proud of them.”
Scott is considered a trailblazer for female musicians. She began teaching at Berklee at a time when female instructors and students represented a small minority. Scott was also the first woman elected to the executive board of the Boston Musicians’ Association, Local 9-535, American Federation of Musicians, where she served for 25 years. For many years, she has played as a soloist and with her trio at jazz clubs and hotels in Boston and the New England area. She has also accompanied greats such as Cab Calloway and Eartha Kitt, and appeared as a soloist with the Boston Pops Orchestra.
“Celebrating Maggie Scott: 30 Years of Jazz Vocal Night,” part of the 2011-2012 Signature Series at Berklee, takes place at the Berklee Performance Center, 136 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts. Admission is $20/$15 (reserved seating), and the show begins at 8:15 p.m. Tickets are available at www.berkleebpc.com or at the box office. For more information, call 617-747-2261.
Photo credit: Phil Farnsworth