June 17 is the anniversary of the birth of Antonio Sciacca, AKA Tony Scott. He was one of my mentors, although he didn’t become so by intention, but through his reputation, accomplishments, and his spirit. As an authority in the musical world in which I wanted to live, I gave him my trust, though he never asked me to trust him. He was my friend, though I didn’t ‘know’ him. ...He reminded me of that fact now and then.
The first time I met Tony was in Rome, fall of 1993. He was 72. Recently graduated from university, I was touring Europe with a band and we had a show in a music complex/night club called Alpheus. He passed by our soundcheck on his way to set up for his performance in the Alpheus’s jazz salon. I was playing clarinet and alto sax, I think we were blowing on Autumn Leaves or something.
Dressed all in black ...black beret, black shirt, black tights, black cowboy boots, he introduced himself. I knew him vaguely by name, knew little about his music. After our show I went to hear him. He was magnificent with a sound like New Orleans, yet having nothing to do with New Orleans. It was his own language, I was hooked. His wife, Cinzia, was dancing to his band’s music.
After his show, he presented me with some cassettes of a new recording he was working on, material that would be released the following year as “The Old Lion Roars.” He also autographed a poster print of a photo with him, Billie Holiday, and Bird backstage at Carnegie Hall in 1952. He signed it, “To Evan, Good Luck on Clarinet Road... Lots of Curves.”
...That was how my journey on ‘Clarinet Road’ officially began.
Tony Scott w/Bucky Pizzarelli (1996) "Memories of You" - San Marino