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If You Only Knew

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Album Review

This Jimmy Scott Savoy release from the mid-'50s should not be confused with the later documentary film based on the trials and travails of the unique jazz singer. In both cases the title If You Only Knew is based on a standard song, one of several co-written by Rose Marie McCoy that Scott chooses to interpret in his provocative manner. This singing style has been compared to phenomena including the cooing of doves, the trembling of the trees in the wind, the whimpering of a hungry cat, and the final courtroom statement of a condemned man. Needless to say, he makes most other vocal music interpreters seem uninvolved. Savoy's rotating house band of totally hip players makes these recordings enjoyable to listen to even if the vocal is somehow blocked out. The steady hands on deck include guitarist Mickey Baker, drummer Kenny Clarke, bassist Leonard Gaskin, and a quorum of expressive saxophonists, among them Jerome Richardson, Budd Johnson, Dave McRae, and Warren Luckey. The 13 tracks are all highlights in some way; worth noting are the searching "Address Unknown" and the refreshing "Recess in Heaven." On "Laughing on the Outside," the vocalist opens up a treasure chest of tragedy, using an emotional map that Scott seems to have owned the only copy of.

Biography

Born: 17 July 1925 in Cleveland, OH

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Singer Jimmy Scott (aka Little Jimmy Scott) had an unusual career conditioned by his physical limitations and record company machinations that sometimes prevented him from being heard, but he mounted a major comeback late in life. He was born one of ten children to Arthur and Justine Scott in Cleveland, Ohio, on July 17, 1925, and he first sang in church. His mother was killed in a car accident when he was 13, leaving him to be raised by foster parents. He suffered from a rare hereditary condition...
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If You Only Knew, Little Jimmy Scott
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