Scott Routenberg was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, where he began playing the piano at the age of fifteen, inspired by his uncle, 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, who was an arranger for Sergio Mendes and Brazil '66, keyboardist for Bossa Rio, and taught composer Maria Schneider. Routenberg was selected for the Georgia Governor's Honors Program in 1996 at Valdosta State University as a visual artist, where he also minored in music.
At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Scott studied jazz piano with Dr. Scott Warner and Chip Crawford (Grammy-winning pianist for Gregory Porter) and big band arranging with Dr. Bill Fritz, who was an arranger for Stan Kenton. 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 album, Shapeshifter, with bassist John Brown and drummer Matt McCaughan (Bon Iver). Since 2001, Routenberg has been a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society.
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). After earning a Master of Music degree in Jazz Piano in 2003, Scott continued his graduate studies at UM in the Media Writing and Production program under Raul Murciano (keyboardist for Miami Sound Machine). 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 with modal jazz guru Ron Miller, Pat Metheny's teacher and author of Modal Jazz Composition. Routenberg performed in the Contemporary Ensemble and the Downbeat Award-winning Jazz Vocal 1, and played with a plethora of gifted student musicians, many of which have since risen to national fame, like violinist Billy Contreras, guitarist Andrew Synowiec, and saxophonists Brandon Wright, Troy Roberts and Phil Doyle.
Routenberg's critically acclaimed, independently produced albums Jazztronicus (2006) and Lots of Pulp (2003) explored cutting edge jazz-influenced electro-acoustic hybrids with extensive found sound sampling. Both albums were recorded, edited, mixed and mastered by Routenberg in his home studio. In 2004 Routenberg won the prestigious John Lennon Songwriting Contest Maxell Song of the Year for his electro-acoustic big band composition Bandwidth, later featured on the album Jazztronicus. 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. Routenberg also subsequently served as a Judge for the USA Songwriting Competition. Scott has written music for various media, including the short film This is Life (listed on imdb.com). In 2007 Routenberg was commissioned by Day 1 Studios and Lucas Arts to write demo music for the video game Fracture.
Since his Miami days, Scott has performed with jazz musicians the likes of Howard Levy, Miguel Zenón, Jeff Coffin, Ryan Keberle, John Fedchock, Jennifer Wharton, Nate Mayland, Nick Finzer, Christian Howes, Ira Sullivan, Jeff Rupert, Jack Wilkins, Gary Keller, John Michalak, Scott Belck, Everett Greene, Rob Dixon, Kenny Phelps, 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). Scott has also performed as a pianist with the North Carolina Jazz Repertory Orchestra and the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra in Florida.
National jazz festival performances include Indy Jazz Fest, Elkhart Jazz Fest and the Gainesville Jazz Festival; 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 Jazz Corner (Hilton Head Island).
Hailed as a "rising-star pianist" who has "found his own voice in the modern mainstream," (Scott Yanow, JAZZIZ), Scott currently leads The Scott Routenberg Trio, an Indy-based jazz piano trio featuring colleagues Nick Tucker on bass and Cassius Goens III on drums. The trio's latest album SUPERMOON (2018, Summit Records), comprised of ten original compositions all inspired by Routenberg's two young boys, has received critical praise as "a work of unified expression from a charismatic trio...with substantial moments of gratification" (Jazz Trail). Jazz Weekly describes 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. The trio's 2017 debut album Every End is a Beginning on Summit Records 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. The Creative Source's Dr. Brad Stone hails the album as "an early candidate for jazz record of the year." The album was featured multiple weeks on PRI's Jazz After Hours, soulandjazz.com's The Creative Source and Chicago's Jazz with Neil Tesser and was played on 70 stations across the United States. Routenberg's latest release [INSIDE] (2020, Summit Records) is a genre-bending, pandemic-inspired home studio album recorded during quarantine that explores the artist's electro-acoustic nu jazz roots.
Dr. Routenberg is Associate Professor of Jazz Piano at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, where he teaches applied jazz piano and improvisation lessons, jazz improvisation, jazz history, jazz composition, jazz piano lab, and directs jazz combos.
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 are scheduled to perform at Dizzy's Club at Lincoln Center. Routenberg's students have won scholarships and awards including the national DownBeat Student Music Awards.
Routenberg has been commissioned to write jazz arrangements by multiple Grammy-winning ensembles and artists including the Dutch Metropole Orkest and harmonica virtuoso Howard Levy. Routenberg's jazz compositions and arrangements have been performed by the Metropole Orkest, the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra, Howard Levy, Christian Howes, Roberta Gambarini, Ernie Watts, Carmen Bradford, the Jeremy Monteiro Big Band, Billy Contreras, the University of Miami Concert Jazz Band, Augie Haas, Brad Goode/The Colorado Big Band, Ball State University Jazz Ensemble 1, the University of Illinois at Chicago Jazz Ensemble, the New York Youth Symphony Jazz Band Classic, and many others.
Routenberg's orchestral works and Pops arrangements have been performed by many noted American symphony orchestras, including the Atlanta Symphony, the Houston Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony, the Indianapolis Symphony, the Phoenix Symphony, the Orlando Philharmonic, the Naples Philharmonic, the Coeur d'Alene Symphony Orchestra, the Tucson Pops Orchestra, the Muncie Symphony Orchestra, and the Susquehanna Symphony Orchestra.
World premieres include Austria, Romania, Ukraine, Norway, Poland, the Netherlands, China, Singapore, and Thailand. Performance venues include Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Concertgebouw (Amsterdam), the Lviv Philharmonic Concert Hall, and the Fox Newman Scoring Stage in Los Angeles. Conductors who have premiered Scott's works include Michael Krajewski, Vince Mendoza, Jochen Neuffer, Dennis Mackrel, David Demand, Douglas Droste, Thomas Sleeper, YongYan Hu, Sheldon Bair and Scott's wife Dr. Sofia Kraevska.
Routenberg's Concerto for Jazz Violin and Orchestra 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.
Other awards and honors include the following: The ASCAP Foundation/Symphonic Jazz Orchestra Commissioning Prize (2016), the International Society of Jazz Arrangers and Composers Symposium SONIC Award for Best Arrangement (2017), ASCAP Plus Award, 2007 ASCAP David Rose Scholarship, 2007 ASCAP Television and Film Scoring Workshop Participant (Los Angeles, with Richard Bellis), 2006 Downbeat Student Award for Best Extended Length Composition, 2006, 2003 & 2002 ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Awards, 2004 Heineken Music Initiative/ASCAP Foundation R&B Grant Program (Miami winner), 2004 Henry Mancini Institute Composer Participant (Los Angeles, UCLA), 2003 First Place Winner of the Hilton Head Jazz Society Scholarship, and in 2006, one of the top 18 pianists in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition.
As a jazz educator, Dr. Routenberg has taught at the University of Miami, Miami-Dade College (Kendall), and the University of South Florida and has served on the jazz faculty at the Music For All Summer Symposium. Dr. Routenberg has given masterclasses and recitals at Berklee College of Music, the University of South Florida, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Jazz Artist in Residence), 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 the $100,000 Cole Porter Fellowship winner, one of the most coveted music prizes in the world and the largest for jazz pianists. 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.
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 has served four times as the Jazz Piano Judge for the All-State Jazz Bands. Routenberg has presented new music sessions and poster sessions at 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. Routenberg's jazz wind quintet Headwinds was chosen for performance at the 2015 College Music Society National Conference in Indianapolis. Routenberg's Doctoral Essay Americana Suite: A Composition for Full Orchestra, Big Band and Jazz Chamber Ensembles Inspired by American Master Paintings (2008) is published by ProQuest.