Slowly does it, as Little Jimmy hits the big time again

BLESSED with the voice of Billie Holiday in the body of Jimmy Clitheroe, Little Jimmy Scott is the most affecting singer of slow, sentimental ballads there is. A doll-like figure, whose flailing arms act out the psychodrama of each song as if the shop-worn lyrics told the story of his life (and if they possess enough pain and loss, they do), Scott is just about the last of his line - the lachrymose- jazz-meets-R&B vocalists of the Forties and Fifties. Now aged 69, with three decades of bad luck and obscurity behind him, he's happily enjoying a late renaissance. He has an excellent new album (Dream, Sire), and this week he plays the Purcell Room in the South Bank's 'Now You See It . . .' season, an imaginative mixture of music, dance and performance linked by the promise that the artists involved will be taking risks rather than taking stock. (See Jazz, below, for details.)

(Photograph omitted)