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Blessed with one of the sweetest voices and kindest dispositions in jazz, Jimmy Scott has also been cursed with some of the worst luck – though the still vibrant 77-year-old song stylist would never admit that. Despite years of neglect by audiences, mistreatment by managers and record labels, endless taunts over his androgynous voice and appearance, numerous failed relationships and family tragedies, alcohol abuse, and a lifelong battle with a physically debilitating disease, Scott remains ever optimistic and remarkably free of bitterness. He's also still singing beautifully in his unabashedly emotional, ethereal and inimitable style.
For this book, author David Ritz spent years talking and traveling with Scott and dozens of his friends and family members. He traces Scott's journey through 60 years in show biz – his early days on the vaudeville circuit; his short-lived moment as an R&B star called "Little Jimmy Scott"; his associations with Lionel Hampton, Charlie Parker and Ray Charles; and his eventual retirement to Cleveland after years of fruitless attempts to find the right niche for his unique talent. The story has a happy ending, of course, as Scott is "rediscovered" in the 1980s and finally finds an inkling of the success he so long deserved.
As Ritz acknowledges, this is the work of a friend and confidante rather than a critic – and it reads that way. Ritz does an admirable job of capturing Scott's inherent sweetness and the subtle strength behind his fragile exterior. Never really probed, however, are the demons that lurk below the surface, which Scott's siblings, ex-wives and girlfriends all say come out from time to time, especially when he drinks. It's that darkness, that sadness and sense of loss that gives texture to the angelic voice and makes Jimmy Scott so compelling.
I love jazz because with it I found my true voice. I have always sung since I was a very small child in school and church. And there have been many genre that I have enjoyed including spiritual, folk, country, latin, soca and pop
I love jazz because with it I found my true voice. I have always sung since I was a very small child in school and church. And there have been many genre that I have enjoyed including spiritual, folk, country, latin, soca and pop. But nothing has touched my artistic sensiblities like JAZZ! Two years ago I moved to Sarasota, FL where I renewed my focus on my singing career and I was so impressed with the quality, quantity and generousity of talented jazz musicains in the Suncoast area. I soon partnered with piano legend Billy Marcus and his trio with Don Mopsick and Stephen Bucholtz. What a blast working with these guys and having them back me up on my first jaz album, Here's To You... which was just released on October 1st. I can't wait to see where the coming year brings me! Check out syniacarrolljazz.com