Little Jimmy Scott

Over the Rainbow

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There have been few 75-year-old vocalists working in any popular music style that sounded as good as Scott did on this session from late 2000, aided by contributions from top players like Joe Beck (guitar) and Grady Tate (drums). Scott loves those sentimental songs, and this set is full of standards in that vein, from the title track and "Pennies From Heaven" to "P.S. I Love You" (the Jenkins-Mercer composition, not the Beatles song) and "I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)." For the most part the arrangements are appropriately small-scale, letting Scott's voice hog the foreground and squeeze plenty of nuances from his sad vibrato. "Over the Rainbow" itself suffers from an excessive wash of vibes, but fortunately that's not typical of most of the set, which just does toe the right side of gushing emotion. It is a refreshing change of pace, though, when a trace of somber darkness is introduced on the foreboding, doomy arrangement of "Strange Fruit," which benefits from a guest shot by David "Fathead" Newman on tenor sax.

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