Shirley Scott was an extraordinary organist. Whether in a trio setting or teamed with tenor saxophone giants Eddie Lockjaw" Davis or Stanley Turrentine, her most frequent partners, Scott could rock. She was masterful at unleashing soulful chords and getting under your skin with swinging lines. She also could match her male partners note for note and often competitively pushed them to be groovier than they intended. But Scott also was a terrific pianist.
An album that shows off her organ and piano prowess is Like Cozy, which devotes four tracks to each instrument. Recorded for Prestige's Moodsville label in September 1960, Scott was joined by bassist George Duvivier and drummer Arthur Edgehill. Scott's work as a professional jazz pianist actually predates her switch to the Hammond organ in 1955. And it shows. Scott played piano with regal grace, her most discernible influence being Red Garland.
Scott plays piano on You Do Something to Me, More Than You Know, Once in a White and Little Girl Blue. She shifts to the organ for Laura; Like Cozy, a walking blues original; My Heart Stood Still and Deed I Do. The contrast between her attack on the two instruments is fascinating. On the piano tracks, shes in a metaphoric evening gown while on the organ, she's in a relaxed blouse and capris.
At times you can hear one instrument's influence over the other. On piano, she employs spare lines and block chords, building to a crescendo the way she would on the organ. On organ, she's much funkier as she deploys one elegant groove after the next. For those not in the know, Moodsville was Prestige's line for those who wanted to relax with jazz as background music.
Shirley Scott died in 2002.
JazzWax clips: Here's Shirley Scott on piano, playing You Do Something to Me from Like Cozy...