JIMMY SCOTT-I GO BACK HOME-A STORY ABOUT HOPE AND DREAMING.

JIMMY SCOTT-I GO BACK HOME-A STORY ABOUT HOPE AND DREAMING. 

Prior to his death on June the 12th 2014, Jimmy Scott was one of the last links to what’s considered by many as the golden age of jazz. Jimmy Scott was a friend of Charlie Parker and Billie Holiday.  She was also a huge admirer of Jimmy Scott’s music and his high, countertenor voice. So were Dinah Washington, Frankie Vali and Ray Charles. Sadly, despite the patronage of some of the biggest names in music, commercial success continued to elude him.

So much so, that when Jimmy Scott’s career stalled in the late sixties, he returned to civvvy street. He worked a hospital orderly, shipping clerk, and elevator operator until 1991. That was when a resurgence in interest in Jimmy Scott’s music.

This came about when Jimmy Scott was asked to sing at his old friend Doc Pomus’ funeral. After the service, Lou Reed approached Jimmy Scott and asked him if would sing backing vocals on Power and Glory a track on the 1992 album Magic Loss? This was the start of Jmmy Scott’s comeback.

The comeback continued when Jimmy Scott was asked to appear in the finale of Twin Peaks. He he sang Sycamore Trees and later, was featured on the soundtrack to Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. However, Jimmy Scott’s big break came when Seymour Stein him to Sire Records. 

Between 1992 and 1996, Jimmy Scott released a trio of albums on Sire Records. The first of this trio was All the Way, which was released in 1992 and featured an all-star cast. All the Way, was later nominated for a Grammy Award, and kickstarted Jimmy Scott’s career.

Over the next twelve years, there was a flurry of releases bearing Jimmy Scott’s name. The resurgence of interested allowed Jimmy Scott and his wife to buy a house in Las Vegas. 

That was where producer and composer Ralf Kemper discovered Jimmy Scott in 2009. By then, Jimmy Scott was back living in obscurity. The resurgence of interest in his music was over. That was the least of Jimmy Scott’s worries.

He was in poor health and confined to a wheelchair. Jimmy Scott who was totally reliant on his wife, was once again jazz music’s forgotten man. When Ralf Kemper saw Jimmy Scott he was totally distraught. Here was a singer who in his heyday, had the talent to be starring in the casinos in Las Vegas. Instead, Jimmy Scot was living in poor health relative obscurity in the suburbs. Ralf Kemper’s dream was over.

Prior to rediscovering Jimmy Scott, Ralf Kemper had grown disillusioned by music. So he set off on a road trip to find Jimmy Scott and record an album with the veteran jazz singer. Ralf Kemper had managed to find Jimmy Scott. However, given Jimmy Scott’s failing health recording an album seemed unlikely.

When Jimmy Scott heard of Ralf Kemper’s plan, the eighty-four year singer was interested in the recording the album. That was despite being confined to a wheelchair and reliant on his wife. Jimmy Scott liked the idea of recording one more album. Ralf Kemper was determined to do Jimmy Scott proud.

He enlisted the help of the great and good of jazz. The band that accompanied Jimmy Scott featured some of the top jazz musicians. Similarly,  Ralf Kemper enlisted Dee Dee Bridgewater, Renee Olstead, Kenny Barron, Till Brönner, Monica Mancini and Arturo Sandoval. They accompany Jimmy Scott on the twelve tracks that were recorded. These tracks became I Go Back Home-A Story About Hoping and Dreaming which was recently released by Eden River Records. 

I Go Back Home-A Story About Hoping and Dreaming is also the name of the film that documents the rediscovery of Jimmy Scott and the making of his comeback album. Both the album and film have just been released Sadly, Jimmy Scott didn’t live long enough to hear or see the album or film. He passed away on June 12th 2014, aged eighty-eight. Jimmy Scott was a remarkable man who continually triumphed over adversity. That was the case from an early age.

Jimmy Scott was born in Cleveland, Ohio on July 17th 1925. He was the third child in a family of ten. Early on in life, Jimmy Scott discovered music. Often he would stand at his mother’s side and sing while she played the piano. Later, Jimmy Scott joined the church choir where his love of music continued to blossom. However, when Jimmy Scott was thirteen, tragedy entered his life for the first time.

He was orphaned when his mother killed by a drunk driver in 1938. She left behind a family of ten children. Sadly, this wasn’t the last time tragedy would affect Jimmy Scott. 

Indeed, tragedy had already affected Jimmy Scott. He wasn’t aware that he was suffering from Kallmann syndrome, which is an extremely rare genetic disorder. That was why Jimmy Scott reminaed four feet eleven inches until the age of thirty-seven. Kallmann syndrome prevented Jimmy Scott from reaching puberty, and resulted in his high countertenor voice. However, it would only be much later that Jimmy Scott was diagnosed as suffering from Kallmann syndrome.

By then, Jimmy Scott had a breakthrough with the Lionel Hampton band. Indeed, it was Lionel Hampton that came up with the affectionate nickname Little Jimmy Scott. This stuck throughout much of his career. It It was also with the Lionel Hampton Band that Jimmy Scott enjoyed his first hit. 

When the Lionel Hampton Band recorded Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool in December 1949, Jimmy Scott was the featured vocalist. However, when the single was released in 1950 and became a R&B hit, Jimmy Scott received no credit. Instead, Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool was credited to Lionel Hampton and Vocalists. For Jimmy Scott this was a huge disappointment.

This wasn’t the only time Jimmy Scott failed to receive credit for a vocal. He had recorded the vocal for Embraceable You which featured on Charlie Parker’s One Night In Birdland album. Sadly, Jimmy Scott never received credit for the vocal, which was instead, credited to Chubby Newsom. For the second time, Jimmy Scott hadn’t received the credit he deserved. This was proving frustrating and indeed expensive. It was costing Jimmy Scott much needed royalties. What he needed was someone to guide his career.

In 1963, Jimmy Scott’s girlfriend was Mary Ann Fisher, who sang with Ray Charles band. She was helping Jimmy Scott to sign with Ray Charles’ Tangerine Records. Once the contract was signed, Jimmy Scott entered the studio and recorded Falling in Love Is Wonderful. With the album recorded, Jimmy Scott headed off on a  well earned holiday.

Whilst he was on holiday, Tangerine Records were forced to withdrawn Jimmy Scott’s forthcoming album Falling in Love Is Wonderful.It transpired that Jimmy Scott had signed a contract with Herman Lubinsky, the founder of Savoy Records. However, Herman Lubinsky lent Jimmy Scott to Syd Nathan who owned King Records. He took Jimmy Scott into the studio and recorded several singles. They were released on King Records. However, Jimmy Scott hadn’t, as yet, discharged his contactual responsibilities with Herman Lubinsky. So Falling in Love Is Wonderful lay unreleased until 2003. Alas, lightning struck twice for Jimmy Scott later in the sixties.

By the late sixties, Jimmy Scott’s career had stalled. He was struggling to earn a living out of music. Things had gotten so bad, that Jimmy Scott was contemplating turning his back on music. Then in 1969, Jimmy Scott caught a break, when he got the chance to record an album for Atlantic Records. Jimmy Scott recorded The Source, which was meant to be released in 1970. However, at the last minute the album was withdrawn. For Jimmy Scott this was the last straw.

After struggling to make a breakthrough for nearly quartet a century, Jimmy Scott still hadn’t made a breakthrough. So he returned to his native Cleveland, and began work in civvy street. Over the next twenty years, Jimmy Scott worked as an elevator operator, hospital orderly and shipping clerk. Things only changed in 1991.

By then, Jimmy Scott was sixty-six. His  old friend Doc Pomus had passed away band Jimmy Scott was asked to sing at the funeral. Little did Jimmy Scott know as he stood up to sing, that Lou Reed and Seymour Stein were among the mourners.

After the service, Lou Reed approached Jimmy Scott and asked him if would sing backing vocals on Power and Glory a track on the 1992 album Magic Loss? This was the start of Jmmy Scott’s comeback.

The comeback continued when Jimmy Scott was asked to appear in the finale of Twin Peaks. He he sang Sycamore Trees and later, was featured on the soundtrack to Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. However, Jimmy Scott’s big break came when Seymour Stein him to Sire Records. 

He was one of the mourners at Doc Pomus’ funeral. When he heard Jimmy Scott sing, he was so impressed by his performance, that he got in touch with the veteran jazz singer. Seymour Stein came bearing gifts for Jimmy Scott. This was a recording a contract and the chance for Jimmy Scott’s music to be heard by a much wider audience.

Accompanied by an all-star band, including Jimmy Scott recorded his Sire Records’ debut All the Way. It was released in 1992 and was nominated for a Grammy Award. Two years later, Jimmy Scott returned with Dream in 1994, and then the jazz-gospel album Heaven in 1996. This brought to an end Jimmy Scott’s Sire Records years.

Next stop for Jimmy Scott was the Artists Only label. Jimmy Scott released Holding Back The Years in October 1998. When the album was released, it reached number fourteen in the US Billboard Jazz charts. Somewhat belatedly, seventy-three year old Jimmy Scott was enjoying a degree of success.

Meanwhile, a box set of the material Jimmy Scott had recorded much earlier in his career was released in 1999 as The Savoy Years and More. While that represented Jimmy Scott’s musical past, the future was looking bright. He signed a four album contract with Milestone Records.

Between 2000 and 2003, Jimmy Scott released a quartet of albums for Milestone Records. This began with Mood Indigo in 2000 and Over The Rainbow in 2001. But Beautiful followed in 2002 with Moonglow looking like being Jimmy Scott’s final studio album.

Then six years later producer and composer Ralf Kemper discovered Jimmy Scott in 2010. He had embarked upon a road trip to discover Jimmy Scott and record an album with him. By then, Jimmy Scott was back living in relative obscurity. 

The resurgence of interest in his music was over. However, it had allowed Jimmy Scott to buy a home in Las Vegas. That was where Ralf Kemper discovered Jimmy Scott. He was in poor health and confined to a wheelchair. Jimmy Scott who was reliant on his wife was once again jazz music’s forgotten man. When Ralf Kemper saw Jimmy Scott he was totally distraught. 

Here was a singer who in his heyday, had the talent to be starring in the casinos in Las Vegas. Instead, Jimmy Scot was living in poor health relative obscurity in the suburbs. Ralf Kemper thought his dream of recording  an album with Jimmy Scott was over. However, Jimmy Scott was a survivor and had been throughout his life.

When Jimmy Scott heard of Ralf Kemper’s plan, the eighty-four year singer was interested in the recording the album. Ralf Kemper was determined to do Jimmy Scott proud. S he went in search of the great and good of jazz. 

Eventually, the band featured a rhythm section of drummers Hans Dekker and Peter Erskine; bassists Martin Gjakonovski and Michael Valerio and guitarists John Pisano and Oscar Castro-Neves. They were joined by pianist Kenny Barron, organist Joey DeFrancesco and harmonica player Gregoire Maret. The horn section featured Arturo Sandoval on flugelhorn; saxophonist Arturo Sandoval; tenor saxophonist Bob Mintzer and trumpeter Till Brönner. Ralf Kemper even brought onboard the HBR Studio Symphony Orchestra. They would accompany 

Jimmy Scott. He was joined by vocalists Renee Olstead and Joe Pesci. That’s not forgetting a cast of guest vocalists that includes Dee Dee Bridgewater, Gregori Maret, Monica Mancini and Arturo Sandoval. Taking charge of production was Ralf Kemper, as the sessions began in 2009.

Unlike most sessions, there was no sense of urgency as the sessions took place Westake Studios in LA and Odds On Studios in Las Vegas. Each day, Jimmy Scott was wheeled into the studio. Despite his advancing years and the pain he was having to endure, he was the consummate professional and never gave less than 100%. This he had been doing for over sixty years. Indeed, many of the musicians that were working on the album weren’t even alive when Jimmy Scott’s career began.

As Ralf Kemper took charge of production, his attitude was that recording the album would take as long as it took. Similarly, it would cost what it cost. This wasn’t about profit or glory. Far from it. Ralf Kemper was determined to introduce Jimmy Scott’s music to a much wider audience and would do whatever it took to do so. 

Eventually, the twelve tracks that became I Go Back Home-A Story About Hoping and Dreaming were recorded. Documenting the making of the album were a film crew who were recording Ralf Kemper’s dream and Jimmy Scott’s comeback.Sadly, there was to be no happy ending.

Despite the album being completed during 2009, work didn’t begin on mixing the album until 2013. By then, tragedy had struck. Jimmy Scott died on June the 12th 2014, aged eighty-eight. He neither got to hear his all-star comeback album, nor see the film that documented the making of I Go Back Home-A Story About Hoping and Dreaming.

Nearly a year after  the death of Jimmy Scott, Ralf Kemper, Lawrence Manchester and Veith Semrau began mixing I Go Back Home-A Story About Hoping and Dreaming in 2013. Over the next two years, they continued to mix and then master the album. Eventually, it  was completed in 2015. However, nearly two more years passed before I Go Back Home-A Story About Hoping and Dreaming was released.

The film of I Go Back Home-A Story About Hoping and Dreaming was premiered in late January 2017. It would be premiered at various venues and film festivals. Meanwhile, Jimmy Scott I Go Back Home-A Story About Hoping and Dreaming was released posthumously to coincide with the premiere of the film. Both the film and the album, I Go Back Home-A Story About Hoping and Dreaming should introduce Jimmy Scott’s music to a much wider audience.

Opening I Go Back Home-A Story About Hoping and Dreaming  is poignant cover of  Motherless Child, which features organist Joey De Francesco. Strings sweep in as Jimmy Scott delivers a brief soliloquy. Soon, a thoughtful piano combines with the strings. They tug at the heartstrings. So does Jimmy’s soul-baring, hurt-filled vocal. It’s augmented by Joey’s Hammond organ, the understated rhythm section and the strings. Later, Joey’s fleet fingered Hammond organ adds an element of drama, as the emotion builds. Meanwhile, Jimmy lays bare his soul as the song reaches a crescendo. All that remains are the strings, during this  during this beautiful and poignant ballad.

Strings sweep as The Nearness Of You unfolds. They give way to a piano and Jimmy’s vocal. Soon, he’s joined by the rhythm section which features a standup bass and drums played with brushes. Sharing the lead vocal, is actor turned vocalist Joe Pesci. They’re accompanied by a slinky, jazz-tinged piano and orchestra. Suddenly, the listener is transported back in time to how jazz sounded as Jimmy Scott’s career began. 

The unmistakable sound of a Hammond organ combines with the rhythm section and guitar on Love Letters. They’re augmented by the lushest of strings. They provide the perfect backdrop for Jimmy’s heartfelt vocal.Soon, the baton passes to Oscar Castro Neves, who delivers an emotive and soulful vocal. It’s very different to Jimmy’s vocal, but works really well. Then when the vocal drops out, a blues harmonica takes centre-stage. That’s until Jimmy and Oscar share the lead vocal. Their vocals work well together, as they reinvent a familiar ballad. It takes on new meaning as elements of jazz, Latin, blues and soul are combine by Jimmy, Oscar and the all-star band.

Joey De Francesco returns on Easy Living. His Hammond organ augments the string drenched arrangement. Meanwhile, the rhythm section provide the heartbeat as Jimmy delivers a heartfelt and joyous vocal. Midway through the song, he allows Joey to showcase his considerable skills, as he adds a soul-jazz influence. All the time, strings sweep. They continue to do so as Jimmy’s vocal returns, on this heartfelt paean.

After a melancholy soliloquy, Rene Olstead takes charge of the lead vocal on Someone To Watch Over You. She’s accompanied by a piano, understated rhythm section and lush strings. They take care not to overpower Rene’s beautiful, tender and emotive vocal. When it drops out, Kenny Barron delivers his finest solo on the album. His fingers flit across the keyboard before Rene returns. She steals the show on what’s one of the highlights of the album.

Pianist Kenny Barron sets the scene for Jimmy lovelorn vocal on How Deep Is The Ocean. Meanwhile, swells of strings, an acoustic guitar and the rhythm section join the piano. It plays a leading role as Jimmy delivers a vocal that oozes emotion. Then when it drops out, Kenny enjoys the opportunity to shine. This time, his fingers dance across the keyboard as he plays with a degree of flamboyance. Then when Jimmy returns, he allows him to take centre-stage as the arrangement shuffles along. Jimmy continues to live the lyrics during this heartfelt cover of this Irving Berlin composition.

If I Ever Lost You finds trumpeter Till Brönner join Jimmy Scott. Wistful describes the introduction as the orchestra provide the backdrop for Jimmy. They’re soon joined by the band, whose rhythm section and piano provide a smokey, late night sound. Meanwhile, Jimmy sings of his fear: “If I Ever Lost You.” He lays bare his fear for everyone to hear. Then when Jimmy’s vocal drops out, strings sweep and  Till Brönner’s  subtle, quivering trumpet fills the void. This proves the perfect replacement and adds to the late-night, jazzy sound. When Jimmy returns, the band and lush strings accompany him as he delvers another heart-wrenching vocal.

Dee Dee Bridgewater joins Jimmy on the piano lead cover of For Once In My Life. It has a slow and understated arrangement, with the piano ushering in lush strings and Dee Dee’s vocal. She’s joined by a tenor saxophone, before duelling with Jimmy. When their joyous and hopeful vocals drop out, a sultry saxophone and lush strings combine. They set the scene for Dee and then Jimmy as she gives thanks. Their vocals prove the perfect foil for each other, and this results in a beautiful cover of a familiar songs.

The guest artists on I Remember You are vocalist Monica Mancini and Arturo Sandoval on flugelhorn. Both play an important part in the spound and success of the vocal. Monica’s vocal is tender, dreamy and joyous. When it drops out, Arturo’s flugelhorn takes centre-stage. It’s joined by swathes of lush strings, acoustic guitar and the rhythm section. They create a shuffling backdrop as Latin and jazz combine to create a summery backdrop for Monica’s vocal. It’s tender, heartfelt and one of the finest on I Go Back Home-A Story About Hoping and Dreaming.

Saxophonist James Moody joins Jimmy on Everybody Is Somebodies Fool. Strings dance before the tempo drops and Jimmy’s rueful vocal enters. A walking bass joins washes of Hammond organ and swathes of lush strings. Meanwhile, Jimmy’s vocal is wistful as if memories are flooding back. He breathes life and meaning into the lyrics. Adding the finishing touch is James Moody’s saxophone solo. It drops out when Jimmy’s vocal returns and he continues bring new meaning into what’s an oft-covered standard.

Joe Pesci returns on Folks Who Live On The Hill. Before that, dark strings sweep and a woodwind flutters above the arrangement. It’s joined by a quivering horn. Then having set the scene, Jimmy’s vocal enters. It’s strong and heartfelt, before Joe’s vocal enters. He shares the lead vocal with Jimmy, as a wistful horn punctuates the arrangement. Mostly, it’s the rhythm section and piano. They’re augmented by swathes of strings and subtle horns. Together they frame the vocals perfectly, as Jimmy and Joe deliver what’s a moving and poignant cover of Folks Who Live On The Hill.

Although Jimmy Smith, his all-star band and cast of guest artists completed recording I Go Back Home-A Story About Hoping and Dreaming in 2009, the album hadn’t been been released June the 12th 2014. Sadly, that night, Jimmy Smith passed away in sleep aged eighty-eight. Jimmy Smith neither heard the album, nor saw the film I Go Back Home-A Story About Hoping and Dreaming. 

The album had still to mixed and mastered when Jimmy Smith passed away. It was mixed and mastered between 2013 and 2015. However, both the album and film had to be released simultaneously. This meant that there was a further delay in the release of I Go Back Home-A Story About Hoping and Dreaming. Eventually though, the film was completed and ready for release.

The world premiere of I Go Back Home-A Story About Hoping and Dreaming took place  at the South By Southwest on 14th March 2016. After that, the European premiere took place at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland on 10th July 2016. Many of the biggest names in jazz were attendance. Some were familiar with Jimmy Smith’s music, while others were won over by the film and his music. It’s just a shame that Jimmy Smith wasn’t alive to savour the delights of the Montreux Jazz Festival.

Since then, I Go Back Home-A Story About Hoping and Dreaming has enjoyed premieres across Europe and America. Suddenly, Jimmy Smith’s music has been discovered by a much wider and appreciative audience. All that remained was for I Go Back Home-A Story About Hoping and Dreaming to be released. It was recently released by Eden River Records on CD and as double LP. This will allow music fans worldwide to discover or rediscover Jimmy Scott. I Go Back Home-A Story About Hoping and Dreaming features the second coming of Jimmy Scott, who was once described as the greatest jazz vocalist that you’ve never heard.

JIMMY SCOTT-I GO BACK HOME-A STORY ABOUT HOPE AND DREAMING. 

jimmyscott-release

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