Jazzitalia - Jimmy Scott At The Blue Note
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Jimmy Scott At The Blue Note
Milan, October 24th 2006
By: Eva Simontacchi

Pictures by: Eva Simontacchi
Fai click qui per leggere la versione in italiano

The world was truly blessed when James Victor Scott was born in Cleveland, Ohio on July 17th, 1925. After 81 years, Jimmy is still performing around the world to thousands of fans. Married New Years Eve 2003 to Jean McCarthy, the two of them set off on a European tour, with stops in London, Istanbul, Paris, Austria, Monaco, Milano. Jimmy Scott has a metallic vocal timbre which is as disquieting and unmistakeable as Billie Holiday's; and a slender body which reminds that of a teenager, indelible memory of a rare hormonal disorder – the Kellmann syndrome – which was never properly taken care of in his youth.

Jimmy Scott has been a cult artist, almost a Myth during the years in which he could work in the way which mostly suited him – that is – all around the States in the immense ballrooms and in the legendary concert halls with Lionel Hampton in the fourties and with Ray Charles in the sixties. Then Jimmy Scott suddenly disappeared from view, and would probably have most unfortunately remained in this situation if a few years ago Lou Reed at first and then David Byrne and David Lynch hadn't rediscovered him. His last album, "Holding Back The Years", includes some of the most beautiful rock evergreens of all times: "Jealous Guy" by John Lennon, "Slave to Love" by Brian Ferry, "Holding Back The Yars" by Mick Hucknall and "Nothing Compares 2U" by Prince.

Ray Charles describes Jimmy's singing, "This man is all about feeling. He defined what 'soul' is all about in singing long before anyone was using that word!"

Friend and fellow musician Lou Reed about Jimmy: "I first met Jimmy Scott through the remarkable songwriter Doc Pomus. I'd heard about him for many years. At the gathering after Doc's passing Jimmy sang. He has the voice of an angel and can break your heart. He did that day and many others.I've heard and even sung with Jimmy many times since then. Here is the singer's singer if labels mean any thing. Listening to Jimmy is like having a performing heart. The experience of life and the art of expression sing through Jimmy and make us partners in his incredible passion. I love him and I never want to say goodbye. When the song stops with Jimmy's last note we're back in the world as it was. Not quite so pretty, not quite so passionate. And we can only wait for Jimmy to sing again and take us that little bit higher."

The late Blues Singer and Songwriter Doc Pomus, Jimmy's dear friend and champion: "Jimmy Scott can touch you in your deepest parts and even find spots that you never know you had. He sings the slow notes slower than anyone else and he has a way of bending notes that is uncanny. It's like he is trying to find out how much he can control and try a note without messing up his perfect pitch. He sings behind the beat further than anyone else ever could and every time I'm certain that he finally gets too far back, he returns somehow. His meter is always impeccable. He has a wide vibrato and the combination of his timing, pitch, and soft sweet sound gives every song a dream-like, love fantasy quality. No one ever sings or sounds like him."

The Band
The Jazz Expressions
, are the high-octane bop quartet that's toured worldwide backing legendary singer, Little Jimmy Scott. With Jimmy's blessing, these musical road warriors are charting new terrain with their recent release, On the Road, an impressive collections of original compositions that range from swing, to Latin even funk.

Lineup of the band: Aaron Graves (piano), Dwayne Broadnax (drums), Talib Kibwe (sax and flute), Hillard Greene (double bass).

"I can't say enough about the Jazz expressions. It would be hard to find more committed or more brilliant musicians. Their improvisations and progressive unions are flawless. For anyone who appreciates top-notch jazz symmetry, it doesn't get much better."  - John Hoglund/Backstage

The Jazz Expressions have been the back-up band for Jimmy Scott for fifteen years with Hilliard (Hill) Greene as Musical Director since 1994.

The concert
The Jazz Expressions, Jimmy Scott's back up band are on stage and they are opening the concert with a bewitching instrumental piece from their album "On The Road". Mr. Talib Kibwe's mellow voice on sax is truly captivating and Mr. Aaron Graves gives us a tasteful proof of his brilliant piano playing. The whole band is very well balanced and a great pleasure to listen to. Dwayne Broadnax at the drums and Hilliard Greene at the bass give a perfect rhythmical pulse to the band, and the interplay between all of them is fluent and flawless.

Jimmy Scott is then introduced to the audience by Mr. T.K. Blue, and leaves his wheel chair to climb onto stage, helped by his wife and by Mr. Aaron Graves. We can perceive the whole band's attitude in Mr. Scott's regards is filled with thoughtfulness and great respect.

Jimmy Scott, elegant in his movements and in his smile starts his evening with his first song. His unique voice reaches down to the very depths of our soul because he's so intense. His phrasing is very personal, and unmistakeable. Mr Scott is offering his experience and his music very generously. "All The Way", "Embraceable You" (G. Gershwin) and "Pennies From Heaven" are among the songs Mr. Scott interpreted for us during the first set. The Jazz Expressions played "A Single Tear of Remembrance" (T.K.Blue), a piece which highlights the mellowness and warmness of Mr. T.K. Blue's melodious playing on flute. The piece is a poem in music, and all the instrumentalists sound great.

At the end of the set, Jimmy Scott is surrounded by fans who wish to have the chance to have his autograph on one of his albums or on slits of paper. Jimmy Scott smiles and welcomes everybody with gentleness and kindness.

I feel very lucky I had the opportunity of meeting Mr. Jimmy Scott and to see him on stage; he is one of my heroes, and I always loved his singing. To shake hands with him has been a true honour for me. Many thanks to Jimmy Scott for blessing us with his unique voice and unique soul once again!

Related articles:

Interview with Marcus Miller during the last date of the "Tutu Rivisited" tour, a tribute to Miles Davis, at Blue Note in Milan. (Eva Simontacchi)


Toots Thielmans at Blue Note with Kenny Werner, Oscar Castro-Neves, and Airto: "What a treat to see Toots Thielemans performing again at almost 88..." (Roberta Zlokower)


Ivan Lins at Blue Note in Milan: "His simplicity, naturalness and generosity are evident during his performances. You can feel he's with his audience all the time; he gives all he's got, and he does it having fun and involving Amuedo, the guitar-player with meaningful glances in order to establish performances and dynamics." (E. Simontacchi, N. Pazzaglia)


Interview with Ivan Lins: "When I start to write songs, well, I've never written songs for me, because I started to sing a little late in my career. Well, I started everything late. I started piano when I was 18, and then I started to write songs when I was at the University, and I never thought I was going to sing one day in my life. So when I was starting to write songs, I was imagining somebody singing them. And this kicks into my heart today." (Eva Simontacchi)


Preservation Hall Jazz Band brings New Orleans at Blue Note: "...Allan and Sandra Jaffe, in 1961, developed the mission to preserve the music of New Orleans and send a professional band, steeped in the genre, around the globe. Tonight's concert inspired the packed crowd to clap, stand, sway, and smile broadly in this feel-good, melodic milieu." (Roberta E. Zlokower)


Interview with Kelli Sae and Peter Legat - Count Basic: "...it came together as a project that I had in mind combining the styles of music that I like that are the funky groovy stuff and some jazz influences that I have. I met Kelli in London when we did our first record there, and since 1993 we go on together." (Eva Simontacchi)


Interviw with Karrin Allyson: "...I'm sincere in wanting to bring joy and beauty and laughter and thoughtfulness to the listener. It's not about posing. It's about reaching people. And that's what I hope happens...." (Eva Simontacchi)


Tuck and Patti at Blue Note in Milan: "...Not only can Tuck and Patti reach into your heart and move you to tears; they are also capable of making you smile and have fun." (Eva Simontacchi)


Israel "Cachao" Lopez with his Latin Band at Blue Note: "This was the summer's greatest dance event, but no dance floor was in sight! Yet, hearts and souls danced a raging mambo with this magnificent, Cuban bassist and his 10-piece Latin band..." (Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower)


Jane Monheit at the Blue Note: "...It is outright clear that she is very gifted and talented. Her pitch is perfect, she's very precise, and she uses dynamics knowingly in order to convey her most intimate feelings, apart from having a wonderful swing..." (Eva Simontacchi)

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Publishing Date: 19/11/2006

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