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Interviews

Jimmy Scott: Across the Universe

By Published: August 30, 2011
AAJ: Have you ever performed in the UK before, or is this the first time?

JS: Yes, I've performed there many times. May 2007 was my last performance in the UK. I performed at Ronnie Scott
Ronnie Scott
Ronnie Scott
1927 - 1996
sax, tenor
's and at The Roundhouse.

AAJ: Most discographies show your last album release as Moon Glow in 2003. What have you been doing in the time since passed?

JS: We've just completed an album that is scheduled for release in the fall. It is a dedication to my wife to thank her for her loyalty. It's about our love for each other. The music pertains to our lives together. It features jazz masters like James Moody
James Moody
James Moody
1925 - 2010
reeds
and Kenny Barron
Kenny Barron
Kenny Barron
b.1943
piano
playing on it also. I think I should let you know that—we have them as guests. I dedicated it to my wife, and since it was dedicated to her, I'll let her tell you more about it.

Jeanie Scott: It was recorded in June 2009. The original conception and hook to it, songs that Jimmy and I had picked out over the years that we wanted him to eventually do because they related to different incidents in our relationship, led us to give it the title I Remember You. There was a documentary filmed about the recording, to support it, and we believe they'll both be released simultaneously in the fall. There are some other guest artists on it too, like Joe Pesci and Dee Dee Bridgewater
Dee Dee Bridgewater
Dee Dee Bridgewater
b.1950
vocalist
and Patti Austin
Patti Austin
Patti Austin
b.1948
vocalist
and other people. So we're just waiting for it to come out. Also, Terry Gibbs
Terry Gibbs
Terry Gibbs
b.1924
vibraphone
plays vibraphone on it—the last time he played with Jimmy was when Jimmy recorded for Roost Records in 1951.

AAJ: Few singers can render tender and fragile emotion like Chet Baker
Chet Baker
Chet Baker
1929 - 1988
trumpet
. What did you think of Chet's singing, and do you think it has anything in common with the way that you sing?

JS: I respected Chet's singing always. My wife and I both listen to his old recordings, those that we can find. I thought and think he is one of the greats.

AAJ: What jazz musicians play(ed) in an instrumental style that most reminds you of your own vocal style?

JS: Lester Young
Lester Young
Lester Young
1909 - 1959
saxophone
. Ray Charles. David "Fathead" Newman. Definitely Lester Young.

AAJ: When you're all by yourself and feeling blue, what are your two or three favorite songs to sing?

JS: "When Did You Leave Heaven?" "Motherless Child" and "My Mother's Eyes." When I feel lonely, they come to my mind.

AAJ: Having listened to you, Nancy Wilson
Nancy Wilson
Nancy Wilson
b.1937
vocalist
sure makes a lot more sense.

JS: Oh, good. Yeah, that's my honey. That's my little honey. She's quite an artist, yes, she is.

AAJ: Are there singers that you find yourself returning to and listening to over and over again?

JS: Many, many singers. One is Ray Charles, of course, and Billy Eckstine
Billy Eckstine
Billy Eckstine
1914 - 1993
vocalist
. I don't want to forget to remind you that there is an artist who I had a great fondness for, and that was Big Maybelle
Big Maybelle
Big Maybelle
1924 - 1972
vocalist
. She used to come into clubs at night when we worked together, and she would say, "I'm singing some of your songs tonight," and I'd say, "It's no big deal, baby. If you're singing it, sing it." And she could sing it; she was a singer. I have a great fondness for her. Tony Bennett is another one of my favorites, you know? Ruth Brown is another. Ruth and I met in Norfolk, Virginia. She was at a club where I worked after she and her group closed. What can I tell you about Ruth? She could sing and I admired her work and likewise I think she admired mine—she took of a song of mine and made her first hit from it, "So Long." Another favorite of mine was Dinah Washington. Oh, she was impeccable. What a star.

AAJ: Dinah Washington did some famous, and excellent, duets with Brook Benton
Brook Benton
Brook Benton
1931 - 1988
vocalist
. Have you ever recorded a duet with another singer, male or female?

JS: Not until the new, upcoming album. Joe Pesci came by while we were preparing it, and he sang a number or two with me. Dee Dee Bridgewater is on it too. Most people couldn't believe that Joe can sing like he sings. He's got a hell of a beautiful voice, and he's a good singer, yes he is.

AAJ: Another singer we really should ask you about is the powerful Nina Simone
Nina Simone
Nina Simone
1933 - 2003
piano
. Did you ever get the opportunity to speak with or perhaps share a stage with her?

JS: No, I hadn't. Never. And I would have loved to, had I had that opportunity. Unfortunately, life didn't let that happen.

AAJ: There's such a powerful emotional undertow to so much of your music. Are you a spiritual person?

JS: Am I a religious person? Yes.

AAJ: How do you get that to come out through yourself and into your music?

JS: Hey, I mean, this is you! You're singing, or you're doing your act, or whatever it is, if it's in you, it's going to come out of you. I was raised in a religious family. My mother was the most spiritual person I've ever met: God came first. Then we came after. And she lived like that with us and she taught those things to us.

AAJ: You come from a large family. What advice would you give to a young couple just starting their own family?

JS: First of all, they must be faithful to each other and support each other in what they're doing. If they're struggling together, they have to support each other to advance and become successful in their marriage. Yeah, that's what I would say to them: Be faithful to each other and support each other.


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