Jimmy Scott, who possessed one of the most most amazing singing voices in American jazz and popular music, died this week aged 88.
Scott was once described in the New York Times as “perhaps the most unjustly ignored American singer of the 20th century.”
The jazz critic Will Friedwald wrote:
“Yet there’s a deeper question than even that, one which defies any attempt at a reasonable explanation, and it is, how does Jimmy Scott move us so deeply and profoundly?”
jimmy possessed a voice so unique that most every description of his artistry begins with an attempt to dispel its mystery; but it was not something to be unraveled; rather, a divine instrument that one follows like a light out of darkness, the rhythmic invention of his phrasing so supple and sublime that it ran like water uphill as well as down.
i had the opportunity to produce two songs for jimmy a few years ago; and though they have yet to be heard publicly, they stand as work i am as proud of as any music in which i have ever participated: a sacred morning in my basement where nearly every one stood silently in tears, as the first song played back.
all except jimmy, that is; who simply beamed and nodded, waved me over, pulled my ear close to his lips, and said, "oh, let's just stay down here all day!"
Articles in memory of Jimmy Scott are here, here, here, here, here and here.