Scott Hesse
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Scott Hesse

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"Scott Hesse--Music Speaks"

Review by Brad Walseth

On Music Speaks, guitarist Scott Hesse presents a kaleidoscope of styles that could only come from a composer with a wide range of ideas and creativity. Opener, "The Freeze Dance" offers unusual rhythms and tones that may speak from the experience Hesse has gained performing often at Chicago's South Side avant-garde Mecca, the Velvet Lounge. Here, however, the lines are jagged, but composed, with alto saxophonist Greg Ward and keyboardist Rob Clearfield playing in unison and in counterpoint to Hesse, over the pulsing rhythms of bassist Patrick Mulcahy and drummer John Smillie. The at times harsh and strange tonalities on this piece, "Continuum" and "Wired Weird," push the limits for what is considered melodic, yet on other Hesse originals, the band proves they are able to shift gears quite nicely and display their talents in a more harmonious manner.

"A Tale of Two Cities" combines some gnarly passages with a more straight ahead and/or fusion approach and in doing so is one of the most successful pieces. Clearfield, whose work as a member of Matt Ulery's Loom ensemble is also praiseworthy, here is given ample solo space on electric piano and he takes advantage. Ward of course, needs little mention, as he is one of the city's preeminent young saxophone stars, and he too shows his abilities. Hesse's solo here is a joy of straight-ahead playing.

The surprises continue, as cellist Katinka Kleijn adds a lovely touch to the classically-minded "Rasayon." Here Hesse shows off a beautiful technique on the nylong string acoustic guitar. Mulcahy is tasteful in support and Clearfield's organ shimmers. "Unsui" is a delightful little waltz, with Hesse and crew pleasing the ear again. "Araharta" is another successful piece that sounds like Wayne Shorter if he would have had a guitarist in his front line. "Life and Breath" is another nice quiet piece with nice interplay from all involved and some interesting changes, while the album ends with "Where Words Fail," featuring Hesse on acoustic guitar and vocalist Leslie Beukelman on soaring, yet strangely melancholy, wordless vocals. An interesting blend of musical styles. Hesse's sometimes challenging, but always interesting music does indeed speak and listeners would do well to listen.

"Scott Hesse--The Flame Within the Fire"

Jazz guitarist Scott Hesse has put together a fresh and innovative contemporary jazz collection in his new CD release, THE FLAME WITHIN THE FIRE. The CD contains 8 selections with a total playing time of 63:42 minutes.

Selections include “HU,” “So Much In The World,” “The Flame Within The Fire,” “The Invisible Touch,” the highly innovative “The Night Owl,” “3,” “The Traveler,” and “HU (A Slight Return).” These jazz compositions will appeal to a wide range of jazz listeners.

With the gifted Scott Hesse on guitar, he is accompanied by Bob Bowen III on bass, Mark Sherman on vibes, Dan Weiss on drums, and the graceful piano stylings of Sebastian Weiss. All compositions are by Scott Hesse.

THE FLAME WITHIN THE FIRE is enjoyable, sparkles with imagination, and is a definite winner in recent contemporary jazz releases. A talented group and a talented series of performances, this makes for a fine adventure in contemporary jazz listening.

Reviewed by: Lee Prosser,

"Scott Hesse--Intuition"

Scott Hesse is a “talented, technically adept, young jazz artist…His debut recording, Intuition, is a solidly swinging effort that shows his affinity for the straight-ahead…, as well as a more subtle awareness of the jazz avant-garde.”—Joel Roberts, All About Jazz - All About Jazz

"Scott Hesse--Intuition"

“In a word, Hesse can play-and he can write too…Hesse’s compositions are melodic and plainspoken, as is his manner of playing the guitar…[His] tasteful single-note lines sparkle like sunlight on clear water. The tone is lucid and charming, the Jazz sensibility keen and persuasive.”—Jack Bowers, Jazz Now Magazine - JazzNow Magazine


“The freshest sound I have heard yet of all the guitarists of his generation.”—George Benson

From the November 1999 issue of L.A. Jazz Scene, interviewer Bill Donaldson asks guitarist/Blue Note recording artist Rodney Jones, “Are there any guitarists pushing the envelope?” Jones responds, “There are a couple of guys here in New York. Scott Hesse is originally from Iowa, and he has played things on guitar that I’ve never heard anyone else play before. He plays in a way that’s very un-guitaristic. It’s like he’s interested in playing music, versus playing the guitar. I would say he’s at the forefront of the young guys I’ve heard.” - various


The Scott Hesse Quintet: Music Speaks (2008)--Music Speaks can be heard on streaming radio.

Also available: The Flame Within the Fire (2001)
Available through Itunes and all other major online retailers.



Scott Hesse grew up in Sioux City, Iowa, where he began playing the guitar at age fourteen. After graduating from high school in 1989, Scott attended Eastern Illinois University. There he studied for three years with New Orleans piano legend Henry Butler. In 1994, Scott moved to New York City to attend Manhattan School of Music where he continued his music education with renowned guitarist/recording artist, Rodney Jones.
During the better part of 10 years spent living in New York, Scott performed at many of the city’s top jazz venues including Visione’s, Sweet Basil, Small’s, Smoke, Augie’s, Cleopatra’s Needle, and in Central Park. He also shared the stage with many jazz artists including Pete Yellin, Benny Powell, Harold Mabern, Dennis Mackrel, Mark Egan, Akira Tana, Grady Tate, Brad Mehldau, Ira Coleman, Mark Turner, Myron Walden, Stefon Harris, Regina Carter, Cameron Brown, Judi Silvano, Andy Bey, Phillip Harper, Teodross Avery, and David Amram.

Scott moved to Chicago in late 2004 and is now active in the city’s vibrant jazz scene. In that time, Scott has played at Chicago’s top jazz spots including The Jazz Showcase, The Velvet Lounge, The Green Mill, Andy’s, Hothouse, Katerina’s, Pops for Champagne, Jazz at Ravinia, The Cultural Center, and The Chicago Jazz Festival. Other collaborations in Chicago have included performances with Corey Wilkes and Abstrakt Pulse, Fred Anderson, Ari Brown, Greg Ward, Vincent Davis, Edward Wilkerson, Malachi Thompson, Harrison Bankhead, Tatsu Aoki, and John Goldman among others.

Recently, Scott finished a recording project with his new quintet entitled Music Speaks. This is the third of Scott’s solo recording projects, and proves to be his most eclectic release yet.

Scott holds a BA in cultural studies from Empire State College in New York and a Master’s Degree in Jazz Composition from DePaul University in Chicago.

Currently, Scott is on faculty at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, and Harold Washington College in Chicago.