Though there are many solid jazz singers with a paucity of recordings, Marilyn Scott figures among that breed’s finest and most interesting. Across four decades, Scott, 67, has released just 12 albums and earned a lone chart hit, for her disco-era reading of Brian Wilson’s “God Only Knows.” Her discography is peppered with selections from the Great American Songbook, but it wasn’t until 2008’s Every Time We Say Goodbye that Scott served up a full platter of standards. It’s taken nine long years for another, the wait well worth it.
Her alluring sound, formidable as ever, combines the grit-dusted smarts of Karrin Allyson with the seductive charm and crisp articulation of Lena Horne, accented with liberal hints of her blues-funk roots. (Scott’s formative years included shared bills or collaboration with the likes of Tower of Power, Etta James, Bobby Womack and Yellowjackets.)
Here Scott is the impressive centerpiece of a sterling ensemble: guitarist Michael Landau, drummer Gary Novak and Yellowjackets Bob Mintzer (clarinet), Russell Ferrante (keyboards) and Jimmy Haslip (bass), plus guest trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire. This tight, imaginative unit adds stunning depth, richness and interpretive percipience to all 10 tracks, ranging from an impassioned “Never Let Me Go” and a beclouded “Day Dream” to a delectably furtive “Speak Low.” Saving the best for last, the septet closes with an achingly torrid “I Got It Bad (and That Ain’t Good)” and a sizzling romp through “The Joint Is Jumpin’.”