Professorscosco is Los Angeles composer, pianist, multi-instrumentalist and producer Scott Healy.
Now, switching to the first person:
I have a degree in classical music composition and piano, I play keyboards on a TV show, and I used to play weddings in New Jersey. The funnest gig I ever did was Thursday talent night at the Holiday Inn on Richmond Ave. in Staten Island. No kidding. That was in 1988.
I started this blog because one day I was listening to Pandora, and “it” was suggesting all this amazing music for me to listen to, most of which I wasn’t familiar with. Suddenly I felt a connected to and inspired by new music—new to me, that is. It had been months since I listened to anything I didn’t know. Pathetic! If I weren’t so shallow and jaded I might have been overwhelmed by guilt.
But it did occur to me that maybe, just maybe somebody might be interested in some of the thoughts that drip through my consciousness when I compose or listen to music, and that if I force myself to write something on a fairly regular basis it might spur me on to get off my ass, open up those boxes of vinyl that are in my storage locker, hook up my phono preamp, etc…perhaps even listen to one of the many cd’s and mp3’s that people send me on the big speakers and not just on the crappy ones on my laptop.
I used to write a lot for Keyboard Magazine, my editors gave me lots of leeway in my monthly column “Session Sensei”. I’m very grateful for that, it was a great experience. For more than five years I wrote about the business, experiences I had on stage and in the studio, etiquette, biz savvy, I told some anecdotes, had some laughs, shed some tears…
I also wrote many hands-on lessons for Keyboard about rock and pop piano, B3 organ, boogie-woogie, New Orleans and other roots styles–communicating directly and succinctly to beginners, intermediates and pros alike is a challenge, but very rewarding.
But here at professorscosco I have no word limit (and unfortunately no deadlines), so I will pull no punches, and I’ll get as advanced and geeky as I want to…it’s my party now, and I’m the professor!
Some of the posts in this blog are ideas that have been floating around in my head for years: transparent composition and orchestration, free composition, linear harmony, top-down writing, gestural composing, atonality, non-tonality (there is a difference), free improvisation, Third-Stream hybrid jazz/classical forms; there might be a book in my future, and this is a great way to run things up the flagpole. Other posts might be looser and more readable, and certainly some will be record reviews and book reports.
Is there a potential readership for a heady music blog? I’ve gotten great response so far, and the hit counts are mounting.
So I want some comments. From everybody. Say: “hey, this is cool, I don’t totally get it but maybe I’ll go on Spotify and check some of this stuff out,” or “man this is cool, I never thought about that”, or “man, you are totally full of sh*t”, or “here’s how I do it,” or “don’t waste your time reinventing the wheel here, George Russell was talking about this in 1959”.
So, enjoy the pontificating professor. And as Roger De Bris says in The Producers, “be brutal!”
Here’s an informal bio, copied from my FB page:
I’m a native of Cleveland, Ohio, I was brought up on classical piano–Debussy, Mozart, Chopin, Bach, Brahms and Beethoven, with a little Schumann and Mendelssohn thrown in. I went to college at a music conservatory, studying classical composition and piano at Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY.
I moved to NYC in the mid 80’s to pursue composing for commercials and films. I started off doing orchestration work, and I wrote some for pops orchestra. The experimental and cool “downtown” NYC jazz culture was calling though–my writing and playing turned a bit “left”, as I soon lost interest in the commercialism in which I’d immersed myself since leaving school.
All the while I’d been making money playing many, many live gigs around town: clubs, parties in Long Island, downtown jazz lofts, Jersey weddings, Broadway accompaniment, recording sessions, and playing in other artists’ bands. Technology was changing hourly, and, like all my peers, I got in the ground floor of MIDI and sample production, and digital audio soon thereafter. By the end of the 80’s I’d acquired a ton of gear, produced a few records, and honed my keyboard/synth/computer chops on my a few original projects and many collaborations – all in that cool “hybrid” electro-acoustic jazz style – all of which were marginalized by the emergence of “smooth” you-know-what… Somewhere around 1995 I completely lost interest in electronic music and went back to the piano and the score paper.
As it turned out I had not lost my progressive sensibilities, they were just in remission. And I hadn’t forgotten how to compose “modern classical” music either.
I didn’t move fully out of the commercial world, though, as I continued to get calls to play piano, synths, and organ on other artist’s records, live gigs and what few jingles were still being tracked live.
I received a few large awards and grants for my jazz writing, and I wrote a lot of music for my own groups and for other artists, including some big pop artists. But as much as had I wanted to be a full-time composer, playing was always my bread and butter. And as much as I despised what happened to electro-jazz (or whatever you’d call it), my involvement in commercial studio work and electronic music programming, sequencing, early digital recording and producing gave me skills I’ll use forever. I was there when a 1G drive meant something. I was also in Buffalo, NY when “Buffalo Wings” really meant something.
So now you understand my musical identity crisis. It gets worse.
Somewhere along the line I began teaching; the beginning adult piano class at The New School in NYC was my first victim. Check out Scott the Piano Guy, that’s what I was doing on a smaller scale. It was a gas. I met so, so many interesting people, and really honed my ability to communicate music to non-pros.
In 1991 I was asked to lead a small jazz ensemble at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY. That quickly grew into a half time position for me; I had added improvisation, history and theory classes to what is now a full-blown college jazz department. I taught there until 2000.
In July of 1993 I got a call to be a part of a band that was being put together for the guy that was replacing Letterman on NBC’s Late Night Show. We did an audition, got the gig, and 3000 shows later I’m a proud member of The Basic Cable Band on the TBS show “Conan”.
While we all were working hard in the studio with Conan for the past two decades, I never stopped writing, recording, teaching, scoring films, leading bands, and playing live. Now I find myself in Los Angeles wearing many hats: TV guy, bandleader, studio musician, jazz composer, arranger, record producer, film composer, live performer, educator, and part time accordionist.