Born in 1925, Scott lost his mother early in life. Unable to take care of Scott and his nine siblings, his father turned the children over to others for rearing. No one knows the emptiness of being an orphan better than one who has lived through being without family. As if that wasn’t painful enough, it was discovered that Scott has a rare condition: Kallman’s Syndrome, which slows or prevents puberty, along with other symptoms. To some, this would be a hindrance. But for Scott, the determination to overcome any struggles put in his path created an uncanny ability to experience empathy for others and to convey that empathy through his soulful, almost feminine, one-of-a-kind voice.
This two CD album, done on the legendary Milestone label, draws on a collection of songs recorded in New York City in 2000 and 2001 released in 2006. As a one time contemporary of Charlie Parker and Billie Holiday, Scott has been in and out of the spotlight for more than half a century.
Ironically, with all the tragedies Scott has endured, the first song of this collection is "Smile," delivered with the depth and precision for which Scott is known so well. Just as penetrating, the classic "Moonglow," though more upbeat, is given a special flare with Scott’s vibrato tone. Eric Alexander adds dimension on tenor sax.
Grady Tate provides a nice backing for "Mood Indigo." Keeping the mood mellow, Hank Crawford on alto sax plays softly while being accompanied by Cyrus Chestnut on piano. "Without A Song" begins with an introduction by Gregoire Maret on harmonica, giving a slight blues feel before Scott blends his sublime lyrics with the melody.
More up-tempo, "You Don’t Know What Love Is" showcases Joe Beck on guitar, Renee Rosnes on piano and Lewis Nash on drums. Sensually introducing "Darn That Dream," Wynton Marsalis performs on his notorious trumpet as Scott reaches out to his audience.
Upbeat and savvy, the classic tune, "Pennies From Heaven," from the movie Over The Rainbow features Larry Willis on piano, Bob Kindred on tenor saxophone. Another song from that movie, "Strange Fruit" introduces David "Fathead" Newman on tenor sax, Clarence Penn on drums in this sensitive ballad.
The Gershwin-Gershwin classic, "How Long Has This Been Going On?" is done slowly, with deliberate delivery of each word. Plenty of space is given to Hank Crawford on tenor sax, setting the mood as George Mraz gently accompanies on bass.
"If I Should Lose You" and "Please Send Me Someone To Love" bring this CD to a close in the typical Jimmy Scott-in-your-heart style.
Now the mood is set but this album is not finished. A second CD bonus is included featuring six tracks of world known major players.
Joe Henderson performs fast and furious on "The Kicker." McCoy Tyner is smooth on "Song For My Lady," interspersed with frantic infusions of piano and horns. Flora Purim performs "Dindi" from Butterfly Dreams, a soft and gentle tune.
Jim Hall and Ron Carter perform a sweltering duo on "St. Thomas."
"I’m Old Fashioned" is performed by Sonny Rollins kickin’ it. Hank Crawford and Jimmy McGriff smoothly take us through "One Mint Julep," swinging and fretting.
"No Doubt About It" by Jimmy Smith features a guitar roll, deep, smooth, almost bass-like at times, joined later by a rousing, jamming organ, feathering the keys.
Ending the bonus is Jimmy Scott performing "I Thought About You." Bass opens for Scott who jumps in with his unmatched vocals.
A line-up of ace talents; two full discs and the most unique voice of the day make this ensemble a bonus something the Milestone label is known for.