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It took a long time in coming, but Jimmy Scott’s sure found his career groove with his series of “comeback” albums with Todd Barkan for the Milestone label. Barkan somehow knows how to set up Scott’s distinctive vocal presence – an unparalleled dynamic between the performer's exquisite sense of jazz and blues timing, and the ravages of Kallmann’s Syndrome on his voice – with simple perfection. On his fourth Milestone set, Scott burns like a classic torch singer through classic songs, except he seems to do more than sing these songs – he seems to embody them, to give them their own life through his voice.
Scott discovers more shadow than light in “Since I Fell For You,” which pianist Larry Willis and saxophonist David “Fathead” Newman cook up to boiling, and his duet with Willis on “Those Who Were” runs so deep it seems to stop time. This tragic, mournful arrangement of “Solitude” makes the song sound written for Scott, again with Willis plus Grïgoire Maret on harmonica blues. Guitarist Joe Beck also offers soulful counterpart, jazzing up the feel to the opening “Moonglow,” in which Scott languidly bathes just behind the beat, and the nattily swinging “I Thought About You.”
Track Listing: 1. Moonglow (De Lange/Hudson/Mills)--3:54
2. Since I Fell for You (Johnson)--4:47
3. Those Who Were (Freeman/Pedersen)--7:13
4. Yesterday (Lennon/McCartney)--4:16
5. How Long Has This Been Going On? (Gershwin/Gershwin)--7:32
6. I Thought About You (Mercer/VanHeusen)--4:32
7. Time on My Hands (You in My Arms) (Adamson/Gordon/Youmans)--6:18
8. If I Should Lose You (Rainger)--3:43
9. Solitude (DeLange/Ellington/Mills)--6:16
10. We'll Be Together Again (Fischer/Laine)--5:32
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;
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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