Weldon Scott, Creating from Chaos and Stillness

2020 was a chaotic year fraught with rapid change and uncertainty. It was also a time of stillness and reflection. The pandemic forced many people to slow down. Some chose to take a much-needed break. Some chose to focus on family life. Others, like Weldon Scott, chose to dig in and push the bounds of their creativity.

Live Music Movement Foundation featured Weldon in “Weldon Scott: A Musician on the Rise” in a May 2018 article. You can read it here. Much has changed for Weldon since that first article. He transferred from Texas Southern University in Houston to California State University in Los Angeles, CA. Weldon was a third-generation attendee of TSU but felt it was time to forge a path of his own. While several other family members pursued careers in STEM; Weldon knew music was a passion he couldn’t ignore. He is currently majoring in Jazz Studies – Double Bass.

The Covid-19 pandemic was “frustrating, but good” as it allowed Weldon to pursue his passion for music. The pandemic caused a lot of downtime which he used for reflection and creativity. He wrote tunes “every two weeks.” Then he realized that all the tunes had a similar direction, and felt it was important to document what he was feeling. The time he had to reflect put him in a different space artistically. It was like he had a creative mantra to “write, think, visualize” that resulted in his debut EP album that was recorded in just one day. Weldon credits an army of talented musicians who helped bring the album together. He is thankful for mentor and producer Leslie Drayton and engineer Andy Bradley. “They helped make this process of recording music very clear to me,” he recalled. Weldon was the first recipient of Live Music Movement Foundation’s inaugural New Music Grant 2020. It helped make the EP possible.

Weldon’s inspiration for the album were experiences he had in college. He described some of the compositions as having: 

A very earthy, relaxing vibe, while some others may be more “intense”, emphasizing the ups and downs I’ve faced the past couple of years. Even though it is a “jazz” album, it’s not the type of music that you have to wear a suit and tie to listen to. I always try to make social music that can involve the whole community. This is music that your gray-haired jazz snob grandfather and your friend from down the street can enjoy together.

Sometimes he would go for a walk on the beach or at the park and take in all the environment around him had to offer. “There’s so many rhythms from the way people speak, (especially the different languages), car horns, footsteps, even the pace of the waves.” Sometimes he would get a musical motif and start recording “himself humming out an idea.” He described his process as, “I’ll transcribe it out on my bass or piano and see how I want the texture and harmony to sound. Afterward, I’ll put it into a program like Logic and play with it from there.” 

While Weldon’s creative process was fervent and steady, he did have some challenges to overcome. He had to assume the role of a bandleader and make several decisions about the album’s direction. It’s not a position he’s familiar with as a bass player. He prepared charts and invested much time deciding how he wanted the music to sound.  He said, “That goes right down to how I recorded, the personnel that I selected, and the songs I decided to put on the EP. It was a lot of pressure at first, because this is my first big artistic “statement”, and I’m a firm believer that first impressions matter.”

However, he is grateful for the perspective he gained from playing gigs and recording as a bandleader:

A lot of times being a bass player I’m usually getting called for the gig instead of being the one in charge of the gig. So a lot of time I feel like we learn how to go with the flow and suit other people’s needs, but that’s honestly what playing the bass is about. We don’t usually pick it up because it’s a great solo/lead instrument, but because we like playing the groove and being the foundation. 

His experience recording this album will prove invaluable. And it’s strikingly poetic that his favorite tune on the album is “Equanimity.”  There are some very delicate moments within that song that just absolutely brings it to life. The interplay between the melody, bassline, and drums and how it climaxes to a resolution really does bring out the meaning to that tune. Mental calmness and composure, especially in a difficult situation such as a global pandemic are essential. It’s the perfect title for a composition borne due to a chaotic time. Weldon has turned the disorder and stillness of 2020 into an artistic expression that speaks to how 2020 influenced him. And just maybe those who experience his music will be moved to reflect and create expressions of their own. 

Weldon’s debut EP will be available on various platforms this spring. Please stay tuned for more announcements about his upcoming release.