Music brings him home
BELOIT -- Trumpet player Tony Scodwell has spent his career performing with some of the most well-known names in jazz and big-band music.
And now the 1961 Beloit Memorial High School graduate will be the latest inductee into the school's hall of fame.
The ceremony begins at 9 a.m. Thursday, April 20, in Barkin Arena, and Scodwell will highlight the event with a solo rendition of the national anthem.
For those who don't get a chance to attend the induction ceremony, however, there will be ample opportunities during the week to take in a Scodwell performance.
In an interview this week with the Stateline News, Scodwell said he couldn't be more thrilled to join the hall of fame.
"It's a major honor, no question about it," Scodwell said. "It's a great feeling now that it's official. It will be a lot of fun for me. It means a lot to be back at Beloit Memorial, to see and smell the old band room and gym."
After his graduation from Beloit Memorial, Scodwell attended the Berklee School of Music in Boston thanks to a full scholarship from Down Beat magazine.
And, as they say, he got a little help from a couple of friends, including Stateline area percussion legend Jack Farina.
"I'm not sure how it happened, but Tony's story is that he asked jazz pianist Al Talignani and me to accompany him on his audition tape for Berklee," Farina said.
And despite Scodwell's hectic schedule, they've performed numerous times over the decades.
"He has remained a friend all of these years, so whenever he gets a chance to come back, we'll play some of his arrangements with my band," Farina said. "Music isn't a job for us ... it's what we do. He's coming back as special guest for these wonderful festivities, and my band always gets excited and pumped up when he performs with us."
Which is what they will do on April 23 at Grand Avenue Pub.
Scodwell's resume includes performing with the likes of Stan Kenton, the Tommy Dorsey Band, Harry James, Buddy Rich, Frank Sinatra Jr. and Doc Severinsen, playing throughout the United States and Europe.
"Don't think for a minute that I don't feel blessed," Scodwell said of his good fortune in meeting, learning from and playing with and/or for many of the industry's greats.
Scodwell, 74, lives in Las Vegas and has returned to Beloit frequently over the years, performing with numerous groups, including the Beloit Janesville Symphony Orchestra -- the latter on seven occasions. He returned in 2013 as artist in residence at Beloit College.
Scodwell said it's always nice to return to his old stomping grounds, a place where his father worked as a firefighter, and he lived not far from his old high school.
"I remember our little band playing at all of the school dances," he said. "Beloit ... you couldn't ask for a better place to be raised. It's always nice to come back, and it's a good excuse to get together with old friends for a beer and a bratwurst, and a fish fry."
He also is the designer of his own line of custom-made trumpets and flugelhorns, something he started part time back in 1988. Scodwell also has been a freelance photographer.
"Tony is really, really talented and diversified in what he's done," Farina said. "We socialize well and trade stories about the music scene every time we get together. But even though Tony has rubbed elbows with many of the greats and could have one of those star personalities, he has not changed at all. Tony is Tony, the same humble, down-to-earth guy. But he sure does have a lot of great stories, and he certainly deserves being inducted into the hall of fame."
April 17-23 will be proclaimed Tony Scodwell Week, according to David Luebke, Beloit City Council president and one of the event organizers.