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, Nancy Wilson and others. Jimi Hendrix caught his ear and that led to blues and blues/roots influenced rock. Mike Bloomfield, Son Seals, Paul Butterfield, Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson, Junior Wells & Buddy Guy, Tim Buckley, The Doors, Tom Waits and so many others were early inspirations.
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/rock music followed by “fusion”…eventually “jazz” became the priority. Guitarist Jim Hall caught his ear and sparked a deeper interest in jazz guitar and harmony. He landed a steady gig in Greensboro at “Sammy’s”, with vibraphonist Jon Metzger and bassist Charles Dungey that lasted a couple of years. From 1984-1996 Sawyer’s trio and special guests performed most Wednesdays at Pyewacket (restaurant/bar) in Chapel Hill, NC.
In 1985 Sawyer toured Central America as a member of the Jon Metzger Quartet (USIA Arts America Program). Since then, he has recorded and performed here and abroad with jazz singer Nnenna Freelon (1992 Philip Morris Superband World Tour and more), including performances in Europe, Norway, Brazil and Canada. Sawyer has shared the stage with John Abercrombie, Charlie Byrd, David Murray, Oteil Burbridge, prima ballerina Marie-Christine Mouis, Kate McGarry, Tony Williamson, Bob Cranshaw, Dave Finucane, Bill Anschell, and many other notable artists.
Scott Sawyer “Night Visions” is scheduled for release in March 2020. His previous album “Dreamers” (2013) included guest appearances by Kate McGarry. “Go There” (2007) featured Kofi and Oteil Burbridge and charted on XM Radio. “Guitarspeak” (EP, 1999) was preceded by “In The Stream” (1993). Sawyer has appeared on 45+ recordings including Stephen Anderson and the 360° Jazz Initiative’s “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), 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), to name a few. He arranged & recorded “The Glory Of Love” w/ actor Danny Aiello, as featured in the Cinecom film “Once Around”.
In 2013 Sawyer joined the Durham Jazz Workshop faculty where he leads adult and youth combos, instructs groups and offers individual instruction. He’s an adjunct instructor at East Carolina University (Greenville, NC, since 2010), guitar instructor at the UNC Summer Jazz Workshop (Chapel Hill, NC, since 2012), and was an adjunct instructor at UNC-CH (2012-2019).