Music » CD Reviews

Jimmy Scott

The Source (Label M)


Little Jimmy Scott is one of Cleveland's great musical treasures. The 75-year-old singer rarely performs in the area, but he's had an illustrious career and overcome great obstacles in the process. Scott suffers from Kallmann's syndrome, a hormone deficiency that has kept his voice from deepening. It hasn't stopped him from becoming a distinctive jazz singer, as the androgynous quality of his voice is what makes it unique. Scott, who mostly covers standards, is able to transform any song with his fragile voice. He had a resurgence in popularity in the '90s, appearing in the David Lynch TV show Twin Peaks, collaborating with Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea on a cover of "Love Will Keep Us Together," and releasing an album of pop covers (1998's Holding Back the Years).

On this, a reissue of an album that came out in 1969 but has been previously out of print because of a legal dispute, Scott is in top form. Recorded in two days in New York City, with a band that includes pianist Junior Mance, guitarists Eric Gale and Billy Butler, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Bruno Carr, The Source is a beautiful record. Jazz singer Nancy Wilson has said it made her want to pattern her vocal style after Scott. On it, Scott takes standards such as "On Broadway" and "Day by Day" and makes them elegant ballads that are decidedly his own. His renditions of "I Wish I Knew" and "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child" are inflected with the feelings of abandonment and sorrow that Scott conveys so well. The Source is one of two albums Scott did for Atlantic that have been out of print, and while some of the tracks here were compiled on the 1993 Rhino/Atlantic album Lost and Found, it's not the same as having the work in its entirety.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.