RIFFS 2014
   
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June 14, 2014
Ain't Nothin' Little About Him, Jack
Jimmy Scott [1925-2014]

In the world of jazz his pipes were a unique form of gold. In the underappreciated and esoteric arena called Phrasing he was a regal presence dug deeply by so very many in jazz. Word of his talents also found its way into the demi-monde of pop music. Madonna once said he was the only singer that could make her cry, dig that. When he finally laid down his last he had as many years on him as a high class club piano has keys. He went out when his ticker said, “That’s all she wrote, daddy–o. Take it down easy.” Jimmy Scott, a beautiful singer and beautiful cat is with us no more. We at LBC are saddened but reminded of the Second Line in a New Orleans jazz funeral which gives people a chance to strut and not fret upon the stage in remembrance of those spirits that made us embrace the sphere with glee and abandon.

Jimmy Scott’s chart was full of starts, stops, and too many bars of rest from beginning to end. His life story is one of talent pitted against luck both good and bad. Born in Cleveland in 1925 he was number three in a string of ten children.  Starting his singing career as a teenager he was first billed as Little Jimmy Scott for his small size and high pitched vocal register. His voice never broke but he found an inner strength and forged that voice into a gift that the world would come to regard with marvel.

He was held back from much he was due by a contract dispute with a minor recording label. There were even times when he had to find work in hospitals, restaurants and hotels. But eventually he played and recorded with Lionel Hampton’s band in New York, he sang at one of President Bill Clinton’s inaugural gatherings, nominated for a Grammy, and featured in the final episode of "Twin Peaks".

But through all the ups and downs this extraordinary voice, filled with pain and yearning, drenched in pathos and hope, graced the air that we all share and filled it and our hearts with beauty. There ain’t nothin’ little about Jimmy Scott, Jack! When he laid it he laid it.

In October of 2004 Roger Mexico and Michael Monteleone interviewed Jimmy in his home in Euclid, Ohio about his experience with Lord Buckley. Also present was Jimmy's lovely and kind hearted wife Jeanie. Here is a snippet of that conversation. Jimmy is talking about Buckley's 4 Chairs bit.

 

JS
I remember about that time Amos and Andy was coming on the scene, that’s right. And they’d be on the stage and maybe there was some little gimmick they would pull. He’d [Buckley] would run back and Amos and Andy would do the little bit he wanted them to do in his act and they’d keep right on with the show.

MM
And it didn’t seem like he was making fun of black people at all?

JS
I didn’t feel that way, no. I didn’t get that kind of thing from him.

MM
Yeah.

JS
I felt that he was a uppity uppity kind of guy, you know. But, that didn’t bother you because after all  he was utilizing the name “Lord Buckley”. And back then if – again, here is where England comes in to your mind – “Lord? Well, he must have been a Lord from England.” You thought. You know, you didn’t know but, like myself, that’s what I thought about it.

MM
Yeah. Now, when I was talking with Jeanie on the phone she said that you said to her  “They don’t make entertainers like that anymore.”

JS
No, they don’t. Definitely. There are none that are on the scene. They don’t make them anymore like him.