Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Scarff, Phil (Phillip LeRoy Scarff, III)
Scarff, Phil [Phillip LeRoy Scarff, III], soprano, tenor and alto saxophonist and composer; b. West Reading, PA, 7 December 1956. His father is Philip LeRoy Scarff, Jr., born 1924, Rutlege, MD. His mother is Janice Carico Scarff, born 1926, Churchville, MD, a vocalist. His sister is Carol Scarff Hawkins, born 1960, West Reading, PA.
Scarff studied with Forrest Wise, 1966-1972, Ralph Tragle, 1974-1975, Joe Federico, 1976-1978, Allison Herz, 1975-1976, Jerry Bergonzi, 1980-1986, Bob Gullotti, 1986-1987, Pandit Shreeram G. Devasthali, 1988-1998, Suryakant Khaladkar, 1986-1990, Shyamrao Lonkar, 1992-1994, Peter Row, 1998-1994, and Warren Senders, 2003-2004. His wife is Megha G. Joshi. His children are Rasika Scarff, born 1998, Asavari Scarff, born 1998, and Geetanjali Scarff, born 1999.
Saxophonist and composer Scarff has traveled to India for extensive study with masters of Indian classical music and "has integrated North Indian aspects into his playing to an impressive degree," (Option magazine). Phil leads the acclaimed jazz and world-music ensemble, Natraj, which has made concert, festival, and club appearances throughout the world since 1987. Performances include JazzYatra, India's premier international music festival; PANAFEST, Ghana's major international festival (West Africa); the Guelph Jazz Festival, Canada; the Boston Globe Jazz Festival; and the Lake George Jazz Weekend. Grants from Arts International and the New England Foundation for the Arts have supported Natraj's tours and performances. Natraj has released three CDs to critical acclaim in the international music press. In collaborations with world-music artists, Phil has shared the spotlight with statwarts of Indian classical music including saxophone great Kadri Gopalnath, percussion legend Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman, maestro Chitravina N. Ravikiran, and violinist Sriram Parasuram; African master drummers Godwin Agbeli and Abubakari Lunna, bamboo-flute virtuoso Steve Gorn, Mridanga Vidwan T. K. Ramakrishnan and Indian vocalist V. A. Aravindakshan. Phil performs and records with creative jazz ensembles including the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra (releases on Leo Lab, 9Winds, Tautology, and Aardmuse), the Jazz Composers Alliance (releases on Brownstone, innova, Cadence, and Red Toucan), and the Sandy Prager Trio. Phil has presented workshops and lectures on jazz and world music at institutions such as the New England Conservatory of Music, Tufts University, Rukmini Devi College of Fine Arts at Kalakshetra Foundation (Chennai, India), Lawrence University, Bowdoin College, Dartmouth College, the Guelph Jazz Festival, the University of Rhode Island, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Phil has studied in Pune, India, with vocalist Pandit Shreeram G. Devasthali, leading sundri player Suryakant Khaladkar, and shehnai master Shyamrao Lonkar, and in Boston with sitarist Peter Row. His interest in world musics has also led him to study the intricate polyrhythms of West Africa and perform as a member of the Agbekor Drum and Dance Society. He studied jazz theory and improvisation with noted saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi and percussion great Bob Gullotti.
Natraj (Phil Scarff, leader): The Goat Also Gallops (1989), Meet Me Anywhere (1992), Deccan Dance (1995)
Music Collection 4, World Music (1989); Aardvark Jazz Orchestra: Aardvark Steps Out (1992), Paintings for Jazz Orchestra (1994), An Aardvark Christmas (1994), Psalms and Elegies (1996), Autumn Uprising (1997), Bethlehem Counterpoint (1997), The Seeker (1999); Darrell Katz: The Death of Simone Weil (2001); Jazz Composers Alliance Saxophone Quartet: I'm Me and You're Not (1998); Aardvark Jazz Orchestra: Bethlehem Counterpoint (2002), Duke Ellington/Sacred Music (2003); Laura Andel Orchestra: Somnambulist (2003); Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra: In Thru, and Out (2003), Celebration of the Spirit (2004)
Commission from Academy of Indian Performing Arts: music for a performance featuring Indian classical dancers Jothi Raghavan and G. Narendra, master musicians from India, and Natraj. The work was premiered at the Tsai Performance Center, Boston University. Performance of Phil's compositions has been supported through funding from Meet the Composer. His Indo-jazz original, Blue Tumbleweed, garnered a prize in the Jazz Composers Alliance composition contest, up against entries from the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia.
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