No matter how you define it, a real "jazz singer" is exactly what Jimmy Scott is. His phrasing and delivery are simply impeccable, and – though at age 78 his voice may be a bit rough around the edges – he sings straight from the heart.
Scott's newest release offers up ten ballads sung in his typical unpredictable and captivating style. This is prime Scott luring the listener into each song with his subtle nuances and revealing hidden meanings behind every lyric, communicating the longing, the sadness, and the pain of lost love better than any singer on the scene today. You get the feeling he has lived every word of what he sings. As his recent biography Faith in Time
reveals, he has been through it all, and survived. Scott is the real McCoy.
All the arrangements have a loose, uncluttered feel that allows us to focus on the leader. And while all the arrangements on this album employ small group accompaniment (no more than six musicians), with Jimmy Scott, less is better. The most compelling number is the Scott duo with pianist Larry Willis entitled "Those Who Were," written by bassist Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen with lyrics by Liza Freeman. Alongside bassist George Mraz, the supporting musicians vary from track to track and include some of the best – saxophonists David "Fathead" Newman, Eric Alexander, Hank Crawford, and Bob Kindred; pianists Cyrus Chestnut and Renee Rosnes; and drummers Grady Tate and Lewis Nash.
This album lives up to the high standard of Scott's previous three Milestones, and perhaps even surpasses them without a weak moment. Listeners can choose amongst their favorite standards from the ten tracks: "Time on My Hands," "Solitude," "Since I Fell for You," Lennon and McCartney's "Yesterday," and the title track.
Here we have a singer who started singing professionally in the '40s, was embraced in the '50s, then nearly forgotten for decades, and is now finally receiving renewed acceptance. It's amazing what integrity can accomplish!
This review originally appeared in All About Jazz-New York
Personnel: Joe Beck--Guitar;
Hank Crawford--Alto Sax;
Little Jimmy Scott--Vocals;
Eric Alexander--Tenor Sax;
Bob Kindred--Tenor Sax;
David "Fathead" Newman--Tenor Sax;