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Marilyn Scott: Standard Blue

C. Michael Bailey By

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Vocalist Marilyn Scott is not a new name in music. She has released 14 recording since the late 1980s, including the present Standard Blue. It is odd, then, that she has had so little coverage in these pages. George Harris wrote a revealing piece on her 2006 release, Handpicked (Prana Entertainment), but that is about it. A versatile artist, Scott has been able to exist, multidimensionally, across multiple genre, which has proven to be her charm. She does something very effective and special on Standard Blue, including the bulk of the original Yellowjackets plus Ambrose Akinmusire in doing so.

Joined by keyboardist Russell Ferrante, bassist Jimmy Haslip, guitarist Michael Landau ,and winds player Bob Mintzer (who plays solely bass clarinet here), the core of the Yellowjackets is well represented, bringing with them a contemporary mindset honed to a fine artistic edge. Ferrante handles the arrangement duties, with Mintzer adding his horn arrangement to the sleekly stylized, "Speak Low." Which brings us to what is special, even exceptional, about this recording. Scott addresses nine standards and one original cast very differently from most "standards" recordings.

Ferrante is very forward thinking, putting the contemporary spin he was famous for with the Yellowjackets to work here. Spatial and clever, Ferrante's arrangements incorporate cross-rhythms and time signatures in provocative and delightful ways. "Willow Weep for Me" is airy and ethereal with plenty of space. Scotts voice is certain and assured throughout the recording. Outstanding instrumentally was guitarist Landau, whose solo on the Strayhorn/Ellington "Day Dream" (composed in 1941!) is a revelation in translation. The most effective updating of a tune is the Starwars spin the group puts on Fats Waller's 1937 "The Joint is Jumpin.'"

Track Listing: Willow Weep for Me; Speak Low; A Flower is a Lovesome Thing; Never Let Me Go; Day Dream; Blue Prelude; I Wouldn’t Change It; East of the Sun; I’ve Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good; The Joint is Jumpin’

Personnel: Marilyn Scott: vocals; Gary Novak: drums; Michael Landau: guitar; Russell Ferrante: keyboards; Jimmy Haslip: bass; Bob Mintzer: bass clarinet; Ambrose Akinmusire: trumpet. Produced by Jimmy Haslip, Erik Zobler and Marilyn Scott

Title: Standard Blue | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Prana Entertainment

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