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Jimmy Scott
But Beautiful
Milestone CD MCD-9321-2, 2002 (54:12)

Jazz singer sui generis

Dan Macintosh, 14 July 2002

Producer Todd Barkan is quoted in the liner notes as originally wanting vocalist Jimmy Scott to re-examine the texts of "the Great American Songbook," as he likes to call these standards found here, "in an atmosphere that is both comfortable and stimulating." Comfortable and stimulating are two words that describe Scott well, and he is in fine form on this ballad-heavy date of familiar songs.

Song selection ranges from romantic ("You Don't Know What Love Is"), to the philosophical ("This Bitter Earth"), to the spiritual ("Take My Hand, Precious Lord"), and all the while, Scott's warm - and more than slightly effeminate singing (due to a medical condition, his voice has never changed) - fits comfortably into this variety of settings.

Scott is, for the most part, supported by the empathetic backing of Renee Rosnes, George Mraz and Lewis Nash. While this is not a celebrity-saturated disc by any means, there are still a few notable high profile friends along for the ride. Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis acts as a lyrical and supportive duet partner on "Darn That Dream," and Freddy Cole (Nat's brother) adds a gently raspy counterpoint to Scott's high 'n smooth singing on the Disney favorite, "When You Wish Upon A Star."

Most of this set is comprised of ballads; ones where Scott can deliver his phrasing at a leisurely pace. Only in a few places, such as the only slightly upbeat "Bye Bye Blackbird," can Scott be heard picking up the pace. Yet he's at his very best when expressing sadness, as with Percy Mayfield's desperate "Please Send Me Someone To Love." On such occasions, Scott works up uniquely crying vocalisms, which helps to turn this recording into a sad, but beautiful, treasure.

performers  Jimmy Scott, vocals,; Renee Rosnes, piano; George Mraz, bass; Lewis Nash, drums; Joe Beck, guitar; Wynton Marsalis, trumpet; Lew Soloff, trumpet ; Eric Alexander, tenor saxophone; Bob Kindred, tenor saxophone; Dwane Broadnax, drums; Freddy Cole, vocals

production  Produced by Todd Barkan. Recorded by Katharine Miller at The Studio, New York City; August 16-19, 2001. Mixed by Dave Luke. Mastered by George Horn.

songs  You Don't Know What Love Is · Darn That Dream · It Had To Be You · This Bitter Earth · Please Send Me Someone To Love · But Beautiful · When You Wish Upon a Star · Bye Bye Blackbird · I'll Be Seeing You · Take My Hand, Precious Lord

Copyright © 2002 Peppercorn Press. All rights reserved.