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Jimmy Scott: Moon Glow

To suggest that Moon Glow is essentially interchangeable with Jimmy Scott’s three previous Milestone releases isn’t a criticism. The 2000 and 2001 sessions for the 10 chestnuts that fill this latest collection overlapped with those for both Over the Rainbow and But Beautiful. A few of the sidemen changed (here the notable addition is pianist Cyrus Chestnut on two tracks) and, of course, the selections are different. Otherwise, there’s little to differentiate the fragile beauty of these gems from the ones that preceded them. Nor should there be.

Scott’s twilight renaissance has largely been defined by his ingenuity for choosing material ideally suited to the scarred delicacy of his slender voice. Just as it’s impossible to imagine him swingin’ through “Come Fly With Me” or capturing the jaunty effervescence of “Take the ‘A’ Train,” it’s impossible not to appreciate the added depth, the skillfully weighted pathos he brings to such tenderly frangible classics as “Since I Fell for You,” “Time on My Hands” and “If I Should Lose You.”

Throughout Moon Glow Scott proves yet again that his ability to weave a heartbreaking tale owes more to cabaret legends (think such sublime storytellers as Mabel Mercer or Julie Wilson) than to stronger-voiced jazz singers. In Scott’s soft hands, the tormented regret of “Yesterday” becomes more painfully acute than either Lennon or McCartney surely ever imagined. Likewise, on the Mercer-Van Heusen masterpiece “I Thought About You,” he takes the wistful theme of romantic separation and dashes it against the rocks of despair. No longer a dreamily plaintive reminiscence of love lost, it becomes a soaring homage to out-and-out abandonment. Even it, though, can’t compare to the inky bleakness of “Solitude,” a spare, whispered treatment so dejectedly dazzling that it rivals the raw, aching beauty of Billie Holiday’s seminal version.

Originally Published