He’s performed at major festivals, concert halls, and beer-soaked dives here and abroad (Asia, Brazil, Canada, Central America, Europe, and the Middle East) including Monterey Jazz Festival (CA), Herbst Jazz Festival (Austria), St. Lucia Jazz Festival, Playboy Jazz, 2002 Silde Jazz (Norway); Ottawa Jazz Festival; Detroit Jazz Festival, Berlin Chamber Music Hall (Germany); the Blue Note (NYC); Joe’s Pub (NYC); Catalina Jazz Club (LA), to name a few.
Born in Chicago, Sawyer was introduced to jazz and other music at an early age via his father’s record collection, which included recordings by John Coltrane, Wes Montgomery, Miles Davis, Lou Rawls, and Nancy Wilson. But in the beginning, it was the music of Jimi Hendrix and other rock and blues musicians (including Mike Bloomfield, Son Seals, Buddy Guy, Paul Butterfield, Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson) that inspired Scott to seriously pursue music. By the time he landed in Greensboro, NC as a junior in high school, Scott had lived in Texas, Maine, and Chicago-land. Already immersed in the Chicago blues, he was exposed to Southern roots music and blues; eventually “fusion” and then “jazz” became a priority. Guitarist Jim Hall got his attention and sparked a deeper interest in jazz guitar. He landed a regular gig in Greensboro at “Sammy’s” with vibraphonist Jon Metzger and bassist Charles Dungey, that lasted a couple of years. In October 1982, he traveled to NYC for lessons with guitarist John Scofield. A few years later, he traveled to Boston for lessons with guitarist Mick Goodrick.
Sawyer’s latest album “Dreamers” was released in November 2013 and garnered a bit of attention in 2014 via three Grammy Ballot nominations. His previous album “Go There” (2007) featured Kofi and Oteil Burbridge and charted on XM Radio. Numerous recording credits include Stephen Anderson – 360° Jazz Initiative “Distracted Society” (2015); Keith Water’s “Carolina Tracks” (2012; guitar and Associate Producer); Bruce Piephoff’s “Soft Soap Purrings” (2014; Co-Producer, electric/acoustic gtr) and “Still Looking Up at the Stars” (2012, Co-Producer, electric/acoustic gtr); Dave Fox’s “The Meldavians-Farewell to Arigemon” (2012); Nnenna Freelon’s “Homefree” (2010) plus her 1997 Grammy-Nominated “Shaking Free”, “Live” (Kennedy Center; 2003) and “Listen” (1993) albums; Lois Deloatch’s “Roots: Jazz, Blues Spirituals” (2010; guitar and Co-Producer); and Bill Anschell’s “a different note all together” (1998). He arranged & recorded “The Glory Of Love” w/ actor Danny Aiello; as featured in the Cinecom film “Once Around”.
Through the years, Sawyer has performed, toured and recorded with jazz singer Nnenna Freelon (including 1992 Philip Morris Superband World Tour), and has performed and/or recorded with countless other artists of note in a variety of genres: John Abercrombie, Charlie Byrd, David Murray, Oteil Burbridge, (prima ballerina) Marie-Christine Mouis, Kate McGarry, Tony Williamson, Bob Cranshaw, Dave Finucane, Melissa Reaves, Bill Anschell, Mel Melton, to name a few. Other tours include Central America as a member of the Jon Metzger Quartet (USIA Arts America Program; 1985).
Scott is a Group and Individual Instructor at the Durham Jazz Workshop, works with a limited number of students at his home in Raleigh, NC and is an adjunct instructor at East Carolina University (Greenville, NC; Jazz Guitar, Jazz Improvisation) and the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill; jazz guitar).