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.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Eugene Chadbourne