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Jimmy Scott: Heaven

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The blessed resurrection of vocalist supremo Jimmy Scott continues with his newest recording, Heaven. One look at Scott’s mystical, King Ramses II/Elijah Muhammad-like visage on the CD cover clues you in that this is one seriously different record (it is). With the help of producer Craig Street and arranger/pianist Jacky Terrasson, Scott has produced a multi-levelled meditation on the bittersweet flypaper of life’s twilight. Known as the undisputed master of deep, blue-black romantic introspection, the vocalist ascends to a higher level of humanity through his nakedly spare meditative renderings of his new collection of songs. As he has done with Cassandra Wilson and Holly Cole before, producer Street has come with an eclectic bag of modern pop tunes-with-a-twist (Bob Dylan’s “When He Returns,” Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready”) balanced with a few traditional gospel classics (“Wayfarin’ Stranger,” “Just As I Am”) that compels the singer to stretch out into unfamiliar terrain. From the sly bemusement of the opening title tune (“Everyone is trying to get to the bar/The name of the bar called Heaven”) to the singer’s measured optimism on Heaven’s closer “There’s No Disappointment In Heaven,” it’s a stretch that yields eternal rewards.