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Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Hazel Scott born 11 June 1920

Hazel Dorothy Scott (June 11, 1920 – October 2, 1981) was a jazz and classical pianist and singer.

She was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago and raised in New York City from the age of four. Early recognized as a child prodigy, she was awarded scholarships to study classical piano at the Juilliard School from the age of eight. As a teenager, she
performed piano and trumpet with her mother’s Alma Long Scott all-girl jazz band which sometimes featured Lil Hardin-Armstrong. By age 16, she regularly performed for radio programs for the Mutual Broadcasting System gaining a reputation as the “hot classicist.” In the mid-1930s she also performed at the Roseland Dance Hall with the Count Basie Orchestra. Her early musical theater appearances in New York included the Cotton Club Revue of 1938, Sing Out the News and The Priorities of 1942.

Throughout the 1930s and 40s, she performed jazz, blues, ballads, popular (Broadway songs and boogie-woogie) and classical music in various nightclubs. From 1939 to 1943 she was a leading attraction at both the downtown and uptown branches of Café Society. Her performances there created national prestige for the practice of “swinging the classics”.

Scott, in addition to Lena Horne, was one of the first African American women to garner respectable roles in major Hollywood pictures. She performed as herself in several features, notably I Dood It (MGM 1943) Broadway Rhythm (MGM 1944) with Lena

Horne and in the otherwise all-white cast The Heat's On (Columbia 1943), Something to Shout About (Columbia 1943) and Rhapsody in Blue (Warner Bros 1945). In the 1940s, in addition to her film appearances, she was featured in Café Society’s From Bach to Boogie-Woogie Carnegie Hall concerts (1941 and 43).

She was the first woman of color to have her own television show, The Hazel Scott Show, which premiered on the DuMont Television Network on July 3, 1950. However, during a period of continued racism in the advertising industry as well as continued economic hardships for jazz musicians in general, the show was canceled in 1950. Some 

journalists speculated that the show was canceled because of her name's appearance in the Red Channels published by the Counterattack. Scott was tried but not charged by the House Un-American Activities Committee just before her television variety program was canceled on September 29, 1950. Scott remained publicly opposed to McCarthyism and racial segregation throughout her career.

She moved to Paris in the late 1950s, appearing in the French film ‘’Le Desordre et la Nuit’’ (1958) and maintained a steady but difficult career in France and touring throughout Europe until

returning to the US in 1967. She continued to play occasionally in nightclubs while also appearing in daytime television until the year of her death. She made her television acting debut on the ABC daytime soap opera "One Life to Live" in 1973 when she performed a wedding song at the nuptials of her onscreen cousin, Carla Gray Hall, portrayed by Ellen Holly.

She recorded as the leader of various groups for Decca, Columbia and Signature, among them a trio that consisted of Bill English and the double bass player Martin Rivera, and another featuring Charles Mingus on bass and Rudie Nichols on drums. Her album Relaxed Piano Moods on the Debut Record label, with Charles Mingus and
Max Roach, is generally the album most highly regarded by critics today.

She was married to U.S. Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. from 1945 to 1956, by whom she had one child before their divorce, Adam Clayton Powell III.

She died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 61 on October 2, 1981 at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. (Info from Wikipedia)


boppinbob said...

For Relaxed Piano Moods go here:

For Classics 1939 - 1945 go here:

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