Paul Scott is a gentleman bassist alongside whom I have had the distinct pleasure to work for the past several years in my job as an educator and occasional programme administrator at a music school. Having narrowly escaped a bleak future of manual labour in England’s industrial northeast in the late 1970s, Paul quickly became a pillar of the music establishment in the UK, propelling the Glenn Miller Orchestra and many others (Jimmy Witherspoon, Brian Johnson, Max Bygraves, Jamie Cullum, you name them), through their sets night after night, civic centre after hotel after town hall. Paul has played more gigs than I’ve eaten hot dinners in the last 40 years. He spent the ‘90s as Music Editor of popular trade publication, Bass Guitar magazine, and these days he can often be found late at night, roaming muso posts on social media, dispensing advice about basses, effects pedals and amps that he’s tried and tested throughout his career. And just when it seems he’s been a bit quiet, he’ll post another photo on Facebook of his double bass and a drum kit, ready for action on the stage of the Barbican, the Royal Albert Hall or another legendary concert venue.

I once drove a group of colleagues to a one-day music education conference a few hours north of London in Huddersfield. Those closer to my age deferred to letting Paul ride shotgun, and he entertained us all with good-tempered banter the entire way to Yorkshire and back. He’s the guy who keeps the driver awake while others nap in the back, without providing opinion on the quality of the drive. Similarly, his enthusiasm for wordplay and eye for a pun frequently brighten the dullest of administrative email exchanges on, for example, assessment protocol or grading spreadsheets.

Paul is an expertly pedantic and diligent teacher. He is meticulous in all that he does, from his lesson plans to his responses to student correspondence at all hours of the day or night. In the eight years I’ve known him, Paul has unflaggingly reinvented the Instrumental and Vocal Teaching course on an annual basis at the college where we teach, in response to new regulatory frameworks, all the time ensuring students learn the most pertinent pointers for careers as portfolio musicians. An hour spent in Paul’s History of Popular Music or Aural and Transcribing class is an hour among the pages of a multi-media encyclopaedia of industry insight, music trivia and theory. I long ago stopped thinking it an exaggeration to say that Paul knows literally everything. Students and alumni sometimes joke about Paul’s dense, intense classes, but they always betray the tremendously high esteem in which they hold him.

While regulations, ‘best practice’ and tastes – regarding assessment, lesson structures or parking allocation – change with the tide, new company marketing executives or government education ministers, Paul remains constant and steadfast. There is a lot that’s old-school about Paul. Like his ability to read fly shit at sight in the dark and effortlessly lay down a monster groove. Or his unswerving punctuality, regardless of traffic or weather conditions. But in no way is he a dinosaur. Catastrophic meteorological events could not unseat him from his bass stool or divert him from his plotted pedagogical plan. Paul’s is a paradigm of paramount professionalism.

Paul is also a marvellously collegial colleague. An erstwhile Union Rep for the Universities and Colleges Union and a longtime card-carrying Musicians’ Union member, he knows when to offer advice and when to hang back. He always answers his phone, and times his emails, texts and calls to perfection. His is the empathy and wisdom of experience. Paul is long enough in the tooth, sufficiently quick of wit, adequately mild of temper, and possesses such a discerningly low bullshit threshold, that he is surely among the most indispensable of colleagues. Thanks, Paul.

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