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Reedman Cecil Scott (November 22, 1905 – January 5, 1964) and his older brother Lloyd (born 8-21-1902), who played drums, came out of the relatively small community of Springfield, Ohio which proved to be a rich cradle for jazz musicians, producing the core of McKinney’s Cotton Pickers and the Scott band which became Cecil Scott and his Bright Boys. The triangle of Springfield, Wilberforce and Xenia had a particularly strong black community because it housed one of the two pre-Civil War private black colleges, Wilberforce. The Scotts began their band in Springfield in the early 1920s to compete with Milt Senior’s Synco Jazz Band which became McKinney’s Cotton Pickers.

In the early 1920s, Scott’s Symphonic Syncopators, as their bass drum called them, included Gus McClung, trumpet; Earl Horne, trombone; Cecil Scott, reeds; Buddy Burton, violin; Don Frye, piano; Dave Wilborn, banjo and Lloyd Scott, drums. They played as far away as Pittsburg. In the mid Twenties they had a three months’ summer gig at Hermit’s End or Herman’s Inn, 2493 Seventh Avenue, in Harlem. Their band was still a little small and young for the big city and they returned to Ohio. They added two excellent men: Dicky Wells, trombone from Louisville, Kentucky and Frankie Newton, trumpet from Huntington, West Virginia.

Cecil Scott's Symphonic Syncopators
Scott’s Symphonic Syncopators – left to right: – Lloyd Scott, Earl Horne, Gus McClung, Don Frye, Dave Wilborn, Buddy Burton, Cecil Scott.

As a ten piece group called Lloyd Scott’s Symphonic Syncopators, they returned to Harlem and were quite successful, based for almost two years at the Capitol Palace, 575 Lenox Avenue. This was an after-hours club that stayed open well into the morning hours. Since their own job started so late, the Scott outfit often served as relief band for bigger units such as Duke EllingtonFletcher Henderson etc.

They first recorded in 1927 under the name of Lloyd Scott and his Orchestra featuring arrangements by pianist Don Frye and trumpeter Kenneth Roane with solos by Dickie Wells in his first recording. Along with Roane, Hubert Mann played banjo and Cecil Scott was on baritone sax and clarinet. Lloyd Scott stopped playing to concentrate on managing the band now billed as Cecil Scott’s Bright Boys.

The band prospered, playing at the Savoy and Roseland ballrooms and touring to St. Louis and elsewhere. They featured showmanship, smooth danceable tunes and really advanced hot arrangements. The band featured two contrasting trumpeters in Bill Coleman and Frankie Newton and the excellent trombone of Wells, way before his Count Basie days. Scott on clarinet, tenor and baritone sax and Frye also took lots of solo space. This group recorded in 1929.

Although the Depression caught up with them and they never recorded again, Swing Era musicians such as Roy Eldridge, Johnny Hodges and trumpeter Joe Thomas all reportedly passed through the band. After disbanding his group in the early 1930s, Cecil Scott continued as a sideman in swing bands. He was active in the late 40s small band jazz revival in New York as well and is featured in photographs on the Library of Congress American Memory website. Cecil Scott died in January of 1964.—by Thomas Hennessey

band or session leader

Cecil Scott’s Bright BoysLloyd Scott and his Orchestra


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