Marilyn Scott

Innocent of Nothing

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Throughout her career, singer Marilyn Scott has straddled a line between traditional jazz vocals and the poppier side of fusion. Innocent of Nothing tilts slightly toward the latter, with catchy R&B-based tunes like "Icebox" and "Round and Round" alongside an oddly overwrought version of Bob Dylan's "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" that brings Scott Walker's melodramatics to mind. However, Scott's jazz side reasserts itself on her challenging take on the Thelonious Monk standard "Round Midnight," which Scott approaches with the rhythmic fearlessness of Jeanne Lee or indeed Monk himself. Throughout, producer and bandleader George Duke keeps the emphasis on Scott's vocals, using the tropes of contemporary smooth jazz (lots of fretless bass and electric piano, that sort of thing) while never letting the album devolve into soulless background music prettiness, even on lightweight tunes like "A Flame." In terms of Scott's vocal technique, Innocent of Nothing is something of a step back from 2004's Nightcap, a masterful collection of standards that features some of Scott's finest singing, but as a whole, this album shows that interesting work can still be done in the oft-maligned field of jazz-pop.

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