Scott Hesse grew up in Sioux City, Iowa, where he began playing the guitar at age fourteen. A year and a half later he began performing in his fathers 12-piece territory big band throughout the Midwest. 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 citys top jazz venues including Visiones, Sweet Basil, Smalls, Smoke, Augies, Cleopatras 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 held faculty positions at Dutchess Community College in Poughkeepsie, NY, The State University of New York (SUNY) in New Paltz, and The New School in Manhattan. Students from Manhattan School of Music, Berklee College of Music, City College of New York City, Swarthmore College in Philadelphia, and Wesleyan University in Connecticut also sought Scott out for instruction. In addition, Scott has been a faculty headliner at the University of Okoboji Reggie Schive Summer Jazz Camp in Iowa since 1997.
In 2001, Scott was invited to take part in the prestigious Steans Institute for Young Artists. Along with twenty-three other up-and-coming young jazz artists, Scott was handpicked to participate in the Jazz at Ravinia Festival outside of Chicago. During the weeklong festival, Scott played with such jazz luminaries as James Moody, Danilo Perez, Rufus Reid, Dr. David Baker, and Nathan Davis. The week culminated in a concert during Jazz Week at Ravinias summer music festival.
Scott moved to Chicago in late 2004 and is now active in the citys vibrant jazz scene. As a member of drummer Isaiah Spencers Quintet, Scott plays regularly at Fred Andersons legendary club, The Velvet Lounge. He has also played at Chicagos top jazz spots including The Jazz Showcase, The Green Mill, Andys, Hothouse, Katerinas, The Cultural Center, and The Chicago Jazz Festival. Other collaborations in Chicago have included performances with 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 Scotts 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 Masters Degree in Jazz Composition from DePaul University in Chicago.
“In eight original pieces, clichéd, virtuoso displays are avoided in favor of a decidedly original harmonic concept. Especially on the futuristic title track, the ensemble demonstrates a masterful command of chromatics and orchestral color the leader invites comparisons with guitarist Jim Hall only to the extent that his music is consistently challenging and unpredictable. This is an excellent session.
—James D. Armstrong, Jr., JazzNow magazine, October 2001
“The freshest sound I have heard yet of all the guitarists of his generation.”
“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