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Jimmy Scott Jimmy Scott
Jimmy Scott

ALL THE WAY (Sire/Warner/Blue Horizon) • Jimmy Scott

He sings three notes, and I am openly weeping at 8:30 in the morning. I turn off the phone, and surrender myself to an at the feet of the master experience. For that is who Jimmy Scott is.

His life is a parable, and a sad and shameful testament to the way hellbound record executives like Herman Lubinsky of Savoy Records took advantage of and then hamstrung the careers of great artists like Jimmy Scott. When Ray Charles, one of the artist's many famous admirers, tried to give him a hand up in 1962 and cut a record with him on his Tangerine label, Lubinsky said the singer was still under (a one-sided) contract with Savoy, and he would sue. Although several unreleased recordings followed, one of the greatest singers of any time would spend the next 20 years in obscurity.

The emotional, heavenly quality of Jimmy Scott's voice absolutely defies description. Every word is so viscerally and minutely expressed, it's gut wrenchingly beautiful. So high and piercing, so huge a tone emerging from such a diminutive frame, it's like he's from another planet entirely.

After returning to a world of lousy gigs in the mid-80s, a group of famous and influential admirers again began to gather, which led to this miraculous comeback album. God bless Seymour Stein of Sire Records and producer Tommy LiPuma for bringing about such a fantastic recording.

A number of records have followed, some featuring his unique interpretations of more modern material, and the resurgence of interest in the work of Jimmy Scott continues. (He even covered a tune by the beloved Julie Miller, see our interview with the Millers.) He made a truly eerie and wonderful cameo in David Lynch’s "Twin Peaks," one of the greatest TV series ever, in my opinion.

Thanks to Bob Goldstone of Tower Records Nashville, who insisted I buy this record when I stopped in to see an in-store appearance by Caroline Herring, also reviewed in this issue. Our thanks also to Jimmy McDonough, whose incredible liner notes to All the Way provided the facts about the artist in this review. (By the way, this was an $8.99 super saver, pick it up Now.) A surprising number of Jimmy Scott’s recordings can be found on half.com and ebay, at great prices. See a beautiful Billy Taylor spotlight on this national treasure here, and stills from the program here.   • FG

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