Rhoda Scott

Encore, Encore, Encore...

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Organist Rhoda Scott has been living in France for the last few decades, and this set of standards was recorded there in 2002. Scott has always favored unusual groups, either a trio with drums and sax or a duo with a drummer, and here she is paired with veteran French percussionist Lucien Dobat. The set begins with lighter readings of "Mack the Knife" and "New York, New York" before digging deep into Johnny Griffin's "Sweet Sucker." She takes a nice vocal turn on "Don't Worry 'Bout Me," where she exhibits that rare fragile poignancy similar to Jimmy Scott's voice, but the focus is still on her Hammond playing, which even on this ballad is hard-hitting and aggressive, full of all the electric church fervor that has been part of the instrument since Jimmy Smith first brought it to prominence so long ago. Sure, that's part of the instrument's characteristic sound, but few people, maybe Jimmy McGriff and pre-fusion Jack McDuff, bring it out as fully as Scott does. Despite there being no bass player on this date, or almost any of Scott's recordings for that matter, her pedal work makes the absence a non-issue. She gets so involved in a swinging soul-jazz workout of "Sunrise, Sunset" that it begs for a full reading of all of Fiddler on the Roof's hoary classics. Dobat shines on "Sunrise," but is often relegated to the role of respectful timekeeper. Even though this is Rhoda Scott's show, it would be nice to hear her partner her step out of the nightclub shadows a bit. Scott's own "Do What'cha Gotta Do" and a solemn version of "It Might As Well Be Spring" are highlights as well. The set ends with two versions of "In the Mood," the second titled "In the Mood Bis" as a nod to her adopted French home, but after the solid middle that this record delivers, the impression the closer leaves is slight. Encore, Encore, Encore... is a welcome return to U.S. shores from expat Scott. Hopefully there will be more to come in the future from this underappreciated organ heavyweight.

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