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Long Bio

The Early Years: Atlanta, Georgia

Scott Routenberg was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, where he began playing the piano at the age of fifteen, inspired by his uncle Dale Powers, a jazz pianist and vocalist.  After studying initially with Peggy Still Johnson, Scott took jazz piano lessons with former Berklee professor Ted Howe.  In 1995 he began long-distance tape cassette-recorded jazz piano lessons with blind Brazilian legend Manfredo Fest (Brazil '66/Bossa Rio).  Scott continued studying remotely with Fest until the pianist's death in 1999.  Routenberg participated in the Georgia Governor's Honors Program in 1996 at Valdosta State University as a visual artist with a minor in music and interned as a graphic design artist at the CNN Center in Atlanta.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

 

At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Scott studied jazz piano with Dr. Scott Warner and Chip Crawford (now pianist for Grammy-winning vocalist Gregory Porter on Blue Note Records) as well as big band arranging with Dr. Bill Fritz, an arranger for Stan Kenton.   While an undergraduate at UNC, Scott played as a sub in the North Carolina Jazz Repertory Orchestra and participated in clinics by jazz masters like Barry Harris. Routenberg played in the UNC Jazz Band under the direction of Jim Ketch, recording two albums and going on a European tour in 2000, where he played the Montreaux Jazz Festival, Jazz à Vienne and the North Sea Jazz Festival. In 2000 Scott recorded his first studio album, Shapeshifter, with bassist John Brown and drummer Matt McCaughan (Bon Iver).  In 2001 Routenberg graduated with a BA in Music and Communications and was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa Society.

 



The Miami Years: The University of Miami Frost School of Music

 

In 2001 Routenberg was awarded a full scholarship and Graduate Teaching Assistantship at the University of Miami Frost School of Music, studying jazz piano with Vince Maggio (student of Oscar Peterson and roommate of Bill Evans; Bruce Hornsby's teacher). Routenberg held the piano chair in the Contemporary Ensemble and the Downbeat Award-winning Jazz Vocal 1.  In the summer of 2002, Scott was the leader of the House Jazz Trio on Carnival Cruise Lines' S.S. Triumph.  

 

After earning his Master of Music degree in Jazz Piano in 2003, Scott continued his graduate studies at UM on full scholarship with a teaching assistantship in musicology in the Media Writing and Production program with Dr. Raul Murciano (keyboardist for Miami Sound Machine).  While he was earning his second masters degree, Routenberg also taught Jazz History as Adjunct Faculty at Miami-Dade College (Kendall).

 

In 2005 Scott entered the Doctor of Musical Arts in Jazz Composition degree program, studying with Grammy-nominated jazz arranger Gary Lindsay, author of Jazz Arranging Techniques.  During his time at UM, Scott also studied jazz composition with Ron Miller, Pat Metheny's teacher and author of Modal Jazz Composition.  Scott wrote many charts for the Concert Jazz Band and the Frost Symphony Orchestra, and participated in masterclasses with composers like Maria Schneider.  

 

While in Miami, Scott shared the stage with Arturo Sandoval, Felipe Lamoglia, and Armando Gola at The Titanic Brewery's weekly jam sessions.  He also played with John Michalak, Gary Keller, Ira Sullivan, Billy Contreras, Andrew Synowiec, Brandon Wright, Troy Roberts, Phil Doyle, Aaron Mitter, and Dan McGovern.  Routenberg performed locally at venues like The Globe Cafe, became house pianist at the iconic Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables for two years, and brought his trio to the Gainesville Jazz and Blues Festival in 2006.  He also played with the Naples Philharmonic in 2008 for their "New Years Eve Gala Big Band Bash."

 

Routenberg received his Doctoral of Musical Arts degree (DMA) from the University of Miami in 2008.  Dr. Routenberg's Doctoral Essay Americana Suite: A Composition for Full Orchestra, Big Band and Jazz Chamber Ensembles Inspired by American Master Paintings is published by ProQuest.


Awards and the John Lennon Songwriting Contest Maxell Song of the Year
 

Routenberg won the ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Award in 2002 (inaugural year), 2003, and 2006, and in 2003 was the First Place Winner of the Hilton Head Jazz Society Scholarship as a pianist.   In 2004, Routenberg was chosen to attend the Henry Mancini Institute in Los Angeles as a Composer Scholar, where he was mentored by arranger and conductor Vince Mendoza and premiered his first symphonic jazz composition "Sofia" at Schoenberg Hall at UCLA.  The same year, Scott won the Heineken Music Initiative/ASCAP Foundation R&B Grant Program for the city of Miami for his original song "Through Your Eyes."

 

In 2004 Routenberg won the prestigious John Lennon Songwriting Contest Maxell Song of the Year for his electro-acoustic big band composition "Bandwidth."  Scott won the top prize after receiving the Grand Prize in the Jazz Category and competing with winners from 12 other categories, including over 25,000 entries in total.  Judges from the Executive Committee included Björk, Elton John, Joshua Redman, John Scofield, Carlos Santana, the Spin Doctors, Danny Tenaglia, Robin Gibb, Enrique Iglesias, the Black Eyed Peas, the Foo Figthers, James Brown, and many more.  A live performance at the NAMM Summer Session 2005 and award ceremony in Indianapolis followed, and Routenberg's winning song was signed on to EMI Records as a single.  Routenberg also subsequently served as a Judge for the USA Songwriting Competition.

In 2006 Scott won the DownBeat Student Music Award for College Original Extended Composition for "The Dove."  The same year he was one of the top 18 pianists in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition.  Routenberg's "Concerto for Jazz Violin and Orchestra" won the University of Miami Frost School of Music's Concerto Competition in 2007; it was premiered by the Frost Symphony Orchestra with Scott's wife Sofia Kraevska conducting, and Glenn Basham as violin soloist.  Routenberg was chosen as one of a select international group of composers for the 2007 ASCAP Television and Film Scoring Workshop in Los Angeles, where he was mentored by Richard Bellis and Patrick Williams, and received the ASCAP Foundation David Rose Award after writing, recording, and conducting an original film cue on the Fox Newman Scoring Stage with scoring mixer Armin Steiner and first-call Hollywood studio musicians.  In 2008 Routenberg was commissioned by the New York Youth Symphony First Music 24 to write an original piece for big band, "New York Night," which was premiered at Lincoln Center in New York City by the Jazz Band Classic.   Routenberg also had his Carnegie Hall premiere as a composer with "Sunset at Sea," commissioned by the Florida Youth Orchestra and conducted by Thom Sleeper.  

Branching Out in the 2000s: Electro-Acoustic Jazz Albums, Film and Video Game Music

 

Routenberg's critically acclaimed, independently produced albums Lots of Pulp (2003) and Jazztronicus (2006) explored cutting edge jazz-influenced electro-acoustic hybrids with extensive found sound sampling. Both albums were recorded, edited, mixed and mastered in his home studio in Miami.  The music of Jazztronicus was licensed by PARMA Licensing.  

In 2007 Routenberg was commissioned by Day 1 Studios and Lucas Arts to write demo music for the video game Fracture (PS3/XBox360), which had the working title 2161. 

Scott was commissioned to score the short film "This Is Life" by director Wai Choy in 2009.  

In 2010 Dr. Routenberg was hired at the University of South Florida School of Music as Adjunct Faculty in Jazz Composition and Arranging to teach all of Distinguished Professor Chuck Owen's courses during his Guggenheim sabbatical.  

 

Arranging in the 2010s and 2020s

Orchestral Pops Arranger

From 2007-2013 Routenberg worked as a freelance arranger for Pops conductor Michael Krajewski, with many commissions premiered by major American orchestras.  2007 saw the premiere of "Fanfare for a New Year" by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, which was praised as "the ultimate New Years Eve tune" by The Backstage Beat.  The Phoenix Symphony Orchestra premiered arrangements of "Norwegian Wood" and "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" in 2010.  In 2011, Routenberg's arrangement of "Blackbird" was performed to critical acclaim by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and Orlando Symphony Orchestra as part of the program "Live and Let Die: The Music of Paul McCartney."  Then in 2012 the Houston Symphony Orchestra premiered Scott's arrangements of the "Theme From I Love Lucy" and "Mad for Mambo Medley" on the program "Hot in Havana."  The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra reprised Routenberg's "Fanfare for a New Year" in 2013 on the program "A Very Merry Holiday Pops."

In 2014 Scott was commissioned by conductor Douglas Droste to arrange a "Jimmy Buffet Medley" and a "Summer Medley" for the Muncie Symphony Orchestra.  

Arranger for the Metropole Orkest

 

In 2011 Scott was chosen as one of a small group of international arrangers to take part in the Dutch Metropole Orkest's Arrangers Workshop in the Netherlands.  While at the workshop, he worked with musical director Vince Mendoza and premiered his arrangement of Thelonious Monk's "Little Rootie Tootie" in Amsterdam, as well as an arrangement of "You Must Believe in Spring."  

 

In the fall of that year Routenberg was commissioned by the Metropole Orkest to arrange Scott Joplin's "Solace" and Cab Calloway's "The Old Man of the Mountain" (from the Betty Boop cartoon) for the concert "Metropole Goes to the Movies" in Amsterdam, conducted by Vince Mendoza.  Two more commissions were premiered in 2012 at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam for the show "Homage to Michel Legrand"—"Never Say Never Again" (James Bond Theme Music) and "Les Jumeaux."  Later that year Scott wrote two pro bono arrangements for the Metropole Orkest's "Tweetphony" fundraising event, which involved arranging a one-minute tweeted melody within a couple of hours and sending a score and parts for performance and recording the same day!  Scott's first "Tweetphony" was conducted by Jules Buckley.  In 2018 the orchestra commissioned an arrangement of "Let's Get Lost" for the program "A Night of Jazz" at the Royal Theater Carré, conducted by Dennis Mackrel.  The orchestra had a tight deadline and Scott completed the arrangement in just two days.  The Metropole Orkest recorded a reprise performance of Routenberg's "Little Rootie Tootie" arrangement in 2020 for the Metropole Orkest Studio Sessions "Dutch Jazz Jam" with vocal soloist Anna Serierse. 

Freelance Arranger

 

Routenberg was commissioned by multiple Grammy-winning harmonica virtuoso Howard Levy to arrange his composition "Chorinho" for big band, followed in 2015 by Levy's  20-minute "Suite for Big Band," which was subsequently performed by Brad Goode and the Colorado Big Band at the Jazz on 2nd Ave. Festival.

In 2010 Scott began arranging for "Singapore's King of Swing" Jeremy Monteiro, writing several arrangements of Monteiro's original songs for his big band, followed by two sets of big band Christmas medleys and a jazzy arrangement of "We Three Kings."  Scott's arrangement of Monteiro's "Orchard Road" was performed at the JZ Festival Shanghai in 2017.  Monteiro commissioned symphonic jazz arrangements for his 2022 "Chamber Jazz" concert at Esplanade Concert Hall in Singapore, followed by more symphonic jazz arrangements for his "Tapestry" and "45th Anniversary" concerts later that year.  "Tapestry" was released as a live album, Tapestry Live, in 2024 and has the distinction of being Singapore's first symphonic jazz album, which was #1 on the iTunes Singapore Instrumental Charts for the first two weeks after its release.

Jazz Piano Performances in the 2010s and 2020s

 
Since his Miami days, Scott has performed with jazz musicians the likes of Howard Levy, Miguel Zenón, Jeff Coffin, Greg Ward, Steve Davis, Ryan Keberle, John Fedchock, Jennifer Wharton, Nate Mayland, Nick Finzer, Christian Howes, Grace Kelly, Jeff Rupert, Jack Wilkins, Ron Jones, Scott Belck, Alexis Cole, Everett Greene, Amanda King, Rob Dixon, Kenny Phelps, Mark Neuenschwander, Jeremy Allen, and Mark Buselli, and has opened for jazz guitar legend John Scofield.  At the 2019 International Trombone Festival, Routenberg performed a salsa concert with Grammy winner Veni Nuñez (Ruben Blades). 

 

National jazz festival performances include Indy Jazz Fest and Elkhart Jazz Fest. Routenberg has played at such notable jazz clubs and venues as The Green Mill (Chicago), The Jazz Kitchen (Indianapolis), The Velvet Note (Atlanta), Rudy's Jazz Room (Nashville), the Home Smith Bar at the Old Mill (Toronto, Canada), Merrimans' Playhouse (South Bend), The Chatterbox (Indy), The Palladium (Carmel, IN), The Biltmore Hotel (Coral Gables), and The First Turn Club at Churchill Downs (Louisville, KY). 

The Scott Routenberg Trio and Summit Records

In 2015, the Scott Routenberg Trio was formed with Nick Tucker on bass and Cassius Goens III on drums.  Scott was signed to Summit Records in 2017 and released the trio's debut album Every End is a Beginning to critical acclaim.  The album reached #65 on the JazzWeek radio chart, #33 on the Roots Music Report Top 50 Jazz Albums, and was named Jazz Album of the Week by soulandjazz.com.  Every End is a Beginning was featured multiple weeks on PRI's Jazz After Hours, The Creative Source, and Chicago's Jazz with Neil Tesser and was played on 70 stations across the United States.  The trio toured the album at clubs across the United States.  

The trio's second album Supermoon (2018, Summit Records) featured 10 original compositions all inspired by Routenberg's two young boys and received critical praise as "a work of unified expression from a charismatic trio...with substantial moments of gratification" (Jazz Trail).  Jazz Weekly described the album as "a decalogue of Routenberg's compositions...rich in lyricism," declaring that "the modern jazz piano trio is alive and well."  Supermoon received wide airplay on dozens of jazz stations nationwide and abroad, including Jazz on PRI's "Jazz After Hours," the Jazz Network (Chicago) and The Creative Source.  

 

Routenberg's third release on Summit [Inside] (2020) was a genre-bending, pandemic-inspired home studio album recorded during quarantine that explored the artist's electro-acoustic nu jazz roots.  Dee Dee McNeil called [Inside] "an unforgettable studio production."

Concerto for Jazz Violin and Orchestra

 

Routenberg's Concerto for Jazz Piano and Orchestra has been performed around the world and has become one of the most popular jazz violin concertos in the modern repertoire.  American performances include the Naples Philharmonic, the Coeur d'Alene Symphony Orchestra, the Tucson Pops Orchestra, Orchestra Indiana, and the Susquehanna Symphony Orchestra. World premieres of the concerto include Austria, Romania, Ukraine, Norway, Poland, the Netherlands, China, Russia, Singapore, and Thailand.  International premiere venues include the Lviv Philharmonic Concert Hall (Ukraine) and Tchaikovsky Conservatory Small Hall (Moscow).  The Jazz Violin Concerto entered the international spotlight in June 2014 when jazz violinist Christian Howes performed the piece in Lviv, Ukraine on invitation from the U.S. Embassy in Kiev to represent American cultural diplomacy during the Ukraine crisis.

Awards in the 2010s and 2020s

Routenberg won the $10,000 ASCAP Foundation/Symphonic Jazz Orchestra Commissioning Prize in 2016, which resulted in the premiere of "The Anthropocene (The Human Age)" at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center in Long Beach, California. In 2017, the International Society of Jazz Arrangers and Composers Symposium presented Routenberg the SONIC Award for Best Arrangement (2017) for his arrangement of Thelonious Monk's "Little Rootie Tootie" for the Dutch Metropole Orkest.  He has also received the ASCAP Plus Award for many years.

Educator: Associate Professor of Jazz Piano at Ball State University

 

Dr. Routenberg is currently tenured Associate Professor of Jazz Piano at Ball State University School of Music in Muncie, Indiana, where he teaches applied jazz piano and improvisation lessons, jazz improvisation 1 & 2, jazz history (online and classroom), jazz composition, jazz piano lab, directs jazz combos, and teaches Commercial Music Design 1 & 2 (film, TV, and video game scoring).  

 

Dr. Routenberg received the 2018-2019 College of Fine Arts Dean's Creative Endeavor Award for the School of Music.  His students have played the Montreux Jazz Festival and Dizzy's Club at Lincoln Center, and have won scholarships and awards including the DownBeat Student Music Awards.  Dr. Routenberg has served on the jazz faculty at the YAMAHA Music For All Summer Symposium, and has given masterclasses and recitals at Berklee College of Music, the University of South Florida, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Coastal Carolina University and Eastern Washington University.

 

Routenberg served on the jury for the prestigious American Pianists Association Jazz Piano Competition Premiere Series (2018-2019), where he helped choose Cole Porter Fellowship winner Emmet Cohen.  He also  served as score reader and Assistant to the Director at the APA Gala Finals at Hilbert Circle Theater in Indianapolis for the web simulcast.  Dr. Routenberg reprised his role as a  juror in the 2022-2023 American Pianists Awards season, with Isaiah J. Thompson winning the $200,000 Cole Porter Fellowship, the largest jazz prize in the world.
 

Routenberg is an active member of many professional music associations, including ASCAP, the International Society of Jazz Arrangers and Composers (ISJAC), the Jazz Education Network (JEN), and the Indiana Jazz Educators Association (IJEA), for which Dr. Routenberg regularly serves as the Jazz Piano Judge for the All-State Jazz Bands.  Routenberg's jazz wind quintet Headwinds was chosen for performance at the 2015 College Music Society National Conference in Indianapolis.  Routenberg has presented new music sessions and poster sessions at the International Society of Jazz Arrangers and Composers (ISJAC) Symposiums and has served as a judge for student compositions, helping to determine 2019 symposium New Music Workshop participants, the SONIC Award winner and the Owen Prize.  
 

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