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Jimmy Scott: Over The Rainbow

Jimmy Scott’s unhurried phrasing expresses the true meaning of a song’s lyrics unlike no one else in jazz. On this spellbinding disc, Scott’s soulful, expressive style gives new luster to 12 standards.

Smith performs such gems as “All or Nothing at All,” “Strange Fruit,” “Don’t Take Your Love from Me” and others, and an array of top-notch musicians take Over the Rainbow over the top. Scott’s main rhythm team features pianist Larry Willis, bassist George Mraz and drummer Grady Tate, with pianist Michael Kanan subbing on two tracks and drummer Clarence Penn on one. Sensitively mixing it up with Scott and the rhythm players in varied settings, from duo to sextet, are tenor saxophonists Bob Kindred or David “Fathead” Newman, alto saxophonist Justin Robinson, guitarist Joe Beck, vibist Joe Locke and harmonica player Gregoire Maret.

There isn’t a dull track on Over the Rainbow. Scott swings smartly with the larger groups fronted by Kindred, Robinson, Newman or Maret, and all comfortably match Scott’s emotive style. Yet he works equally well in sparse settings, poignantly teaming up on bittersweet ballads with Beck and Locke (“Over the Rainbow,” “Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool”), Maret and Willis (“Just Friends”) or just Kanan (“I Got It Bad…” and “When Did You Leave Heaven?”).

Recorded in a New York studio date in October and November of last year, many of these songs are ones 75-year-old Scott has been performing in live gigs since his 1990s comeback. Whether or not you’ve caught any of his concerts, you’ll still treasure this CD.

Originally Published