Music Review: The Jimmy riddle

Jimmy Scott, Iridium
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Indy Lifestyle Online
Jazz: Jimmy Scott

Iridium, New York

Jimmy Scott is jazz's answer to The Fast Show's unlucky Alf. He's probably the best jazz singer in the world but his career has been dogged by misfortune for 50 years or more. Johnny Ray stole his cry-baby voice; he was signed to a record label that didn't record him but stopped anyone else doing so; and a few years ago he was reduced to singing in New Jersey day-care centres. Then the support of Lou Reed, David Lynch and Joe Pesci was followed by two great albums for Atlantic and Jimmy hit the jazz-festival circuit, becoming a star again in his seventies.

The chance to see him on his home turf at a swanky New York club was, therefore, too good to pass up. Unfortunately, there was an audience of seven, his band were terrible and Jimmy insisted on inviting a harmonica player from the audience to share the spotlight with him for most of the show. As unlucky Alf would say: Oh bugger! Still, nobody's perfect and this remained a chance to see Scott's rare art in action. His signature song - and the title of his comeback album - is "All of Me", and all of him is what you get: a still-strong voice with a vibrato that could shatter glass, extravagant gestures in which diminutive Jimmy threatens to break apart like a doll, and a grand manner that suggests he is playing to thousands rather than single figures. It was a marvellously cathartic experience. At the end I drunkenly confessed how much we loved him in England. "You know, baby," Jimmy said, "that is so great. I'm thinking about recording my own version of Elton's `Candle in the Wind' in tribute to Diana." Oh, bugger!