Little Jimmy Scott

Dream

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Vocal jazz legend Jimmy Scott's amazing 1992 comeback, after decades of obscurity, All the Way, was rapturously received by critics and fans, but proved unprofitable for his record label. For the follow-up, Sire authorized a much smaller budget, sending the singer into the studio with just a handful of sidemen and what seemed to be a curious choice as producer: Mitchell Froom, best-known for his work with rockers like Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello. But the results of the sessions -- recorded in New York City during a blizzard -- come closer, in their fashion, than All the Way to capturing the pain that's at the heart of Scott's one-of-a-kind instrument. His abnormally high, nearly feminine vocals (the result of a rare disorder called Kallmann's Syndrome, which arrests development permanently during puberty) are even more dominant than usual on this program of standards; without the strings of the previous album, nothing gets between Scott and the sadness of songs like "It's The Talk of the Town" and "I'm Through With Love", both reclaimed from his brief '50s heyday. Milt Jackson's vibes drift through the tunes like snowfall, while the rest of the playing is so tight and sympathetic as to be invisible. It might not be Scott's finest overall work -- he was 68 at the time of this recording, and his pipes and pitch aren't quite what they were -- yet as a showcase for his haunted heart, this is exactly what many fans had long been dreaming of.

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