Jimmy Scott


Milestone MCD-9332-2

Vocals: Jimmy Scott; Saxes: Eric Alexander, tenor; David "Fathead" Newman, tenor; Hank Crawford, alto; Bob Kindred, tenor; Trumpet: Lew Soloff; Vibraphone: Joe Locke; Harmonica: Gregorie Maret; Guitar: Joe Beck; Piano: Larry Willis; Cyrus Chestnut; Renee Rosnes; Michael Kanan; Bass: George Mraz; Drums: Clarence Penn; Grady Tate; Lewis Nash

Many would agree that Jimmy Scott's voice is an acquired taste. It is both halting and flowing, breaking yet it never falters. It is simultaneously enigmatic and endearing, sorrowful and always swinging. In spite or perhaps because of its frailties it must also be categorized as an extremely powerful voice. Not wine glass shattering powerful but rather the ability to make incomparable emotional and musical statements.

There are no pyrotechnics on this album in the sense there is no screeching or distorting morphed vowels for overly dramatic effect which seems favored by so many vocalists these days. There are, however, untouchable displays of vocal virtuosity that draw the listener into the very emotional essence of a wonderful variety of songs. His ability to capture both the listener's ear and heart is unparalleled. Mr. Scott's solos are as much, or more, dramatic soliloquies as they are tunes yet he never loses contact with the composer's melodic and harmonic intent. He merely enhances it.

On the poignant "Those Who Were" he proves the adage "less is more." With only pianist Larry Willis at his side he creates a mood that belies the fact it was recorded in a studio. This isn't background music. It draws you in and holds your undivided attention. It is stunning.

Mr. Scott has surrounded himself with the finest sidemen available. Eric Alexander's tenor work on "Moonglow", Larry Willis' piano on "Those Who Were," and Lew Soloff's malleable trumpet on "I Thought About You" bear special note.

by Stan Bann

New Sounds - December 2003/January 2004 CD Reviews