Musically speaking, the sweet melodic sound of the human voice is considered by many to be the first known instrument. In jazz, vocalese has been one of the driving forces that has pushed the development of the genre for more than 80 years. Even more significant has been the advent of women into jazz, which has soothed the hearts and minds of even the most savaged of beasts. One such lady who has the clout to push the envelope of creativity even further has been Marilyn Scott, whose multi-faceted arrangements have been full of artistic impressionism for many years.
Her latest CD entitled Handpicked continues a path that lays claim to the idioms of contemporary and smooth jazz styles from four of Marilyn’s previous releases. In fact, the 16 songs that Marilyn has pulled together are exactly as the title most appropriately suggests. The entire CD is individually qualified to be a part of a special collection of songs that have much meaning to Marilyn and her numerous cadre of devoted fans. Other aspects of this release are representative of an era when National Adult Contemporary music and Smooth Jazz flourished on numerous radio stations across the United States. In the 1990s those musical styles delved deep into the body of contemporary jazz styles as well as vocals. The conceptualized approach that Marilyn has chosen will definitely mesmerize the listening palate with classic covers, romantic love songs and a host of thought-provoking reflections.
Handpicked is a CD that runs the gamut of everything musically enjoyable and entertaining. The recording is full of strategically placed instrumental arrangements and a superb cast of musicians; together, they have chartered a course of vocal jazz enlightenment. There are the nuances of R&B, as heard on the track entitled "You Don’t Know What Love Is," a beautifully arranged ballad Marilyn sings with Frank McComb. Romantically speaking, this and other tracks such as "Close Enough," "I Always Think of You" and "The Look of Love" provide a welcomed format that exhibits Marilyn Scott’s versatility as a balladeer. Additional tracks included in the album’s scope are the basis point for the conveyance of Marilyn’s multi-faceted perspective.
In some ways, Handpicked is spiritual in nature, while in other areas; her music is dynamic and rhythmic in style. In my mind, Marilyn’s voice conveys a feeling of personal input and a fluid-like presentation. Although Handpicked is pure Marilyn Scott, her choice of musicians to accompany her is just as creative. George Duke played on as well as arranged and produced many of the tracks on the CD. Other stellar musicians supported the project also, including drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, guitarist Ray Fuller, bassist Brian Bromberg, Brazilian guitarist Dori Caymmi, saxophonist Brandon Fields and percussionist Lenny Castro. Without a doubt, these ingredients coupled with the special talents of Marilyn Scott have made this collection of songs one of the best albums of 2005.
Handpicked is Marilyn Scott’s ninth release to date. By any stretch of creativity, this album is a jazz activated compilation of beautifully arranged original and cover songs. Since the 1990s, Marilyn has touched the hearts of numerous vocal aficionados with a wide variety of musical styles set to jazz. Throughout her career, she has continued a vocal tradition that is constantly evolving in an environment where jazz may not be considered a mainstay of popularity. While this fact may be the consensus, Marilyn Scott will fulfill the promise of her talent by establishing herself as one of the most endearing artists of the 21st century. "Handpicked" is but another chapter that will chart the progress of this phenomenal vocalist.