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By Bruce Pettit
Bethany United Methodist Church has been known to have rather wild Mardi Gras worship services. The church expects the festivities to be even livelier this year, when musician Dave Scott, who plays with two nationally renowned jazz bands, leads the Mardi Gras celebration on Sunday, Feb. 18.
Scott, Bethany's director of music since August, plays trumpet with the Boz Scaggs and Marcus Shelby bands. He also teaches trumpet at the Community Music Center in San Francisco and at the Jazz School in Berkeley.
Mardi Gras is the last bash before the spiritually reflective season of Lent begins, and celebrants typically let loose before self-denial sets in on Ash Wednesday (Feb. 21). Bethany has adopted a New Orleans atmosphere on the Sunday before Lent for the past several years. Bethany pastor Lauren Chaffee says Scott's trumpeting skills are a perfect fit for this year's service, which begins at 11 a.m. at the church at Clipper and Sanchez streets.
Scott came to Bethany from Glide Memorial United Methodist Church after six years with its praise band. There he found the legendary Rev. Cecil Williams to be similar to a jazz musician--both on a social scale and in sermons. "He could sense what was needed, in any given moment--improvising and creating something special and meaningful in places where there was nothing before," Scott says. Still, of the mega-church in San Francisco's Tenderloin Scott says, "Glide isn't for someone who wants more of a feeling of intimacy" in worship. At Bethany, "I want the music to be fresh, varied, vibrant, and fun. I especially like jazz- and blues-influenced, gospel-sounding chords."
Growing up in Ann Arbor, Mich., Scott got hooked on jazz chords in the second grade after an assignment from his piano teacher. In the third grade, he preferred baseball and wanted to quit piano, but his mother told him that he, not she, would have to tell the piano teacher. "I kept putting it off. A year later, I was over the hump and didn't want to quit anymore."
He took nine more years of piano and started trumpet in fifth grade. He discovered the heartache of Chopin, ambiguous harmonies in Debussy, and vibrant jazziness in Gershwin. "When I was 16, I went to the National Music Camp at Interlochen, Michigan, and discovered a whole bunch of other music- and art-loving kids, just like me. There I was fully accepted and not a band geek."
Scott went with the Boz Scaggs band, he explains, when "Boz needed a trumpet player who would have ideas about what to play even when he wasn't sure himself what the trumpet player should be playing [Scaggs plays guitar and sings]. Also, he needed someone who doubled as a keyboardist."
Scott invites people to join the Bethany choir, which rehearses Thursdays at 6 p.m. He also wants to start a Bethany youth band for kids 8 to 18, to rehearse at 7 p.m. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you may call the church at 415-647-8393.