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Tributes paid to jazz legend “Little” Jimmy Scott

Jazz legend Jimmy Scott poses for a portrait at his home in Euclid, Ohio in 2004. Picture: AP

Jazz legend Jimmy Scott poses for a portrait at his home in Euclid, Ohio in 2004. Picture: AP

  • by ALISTAIR MUNRO
 

TRIBUTES have been paid to global jazz sensation “Little” Jimmy Scott, who has died at the age of 88.

The singer had played with Louis Armstrong and Charlie Parker, and later appeared in television drama Twin Peaks.

His haunting contralto 
voice won him acclaim over the course of more than seven decades.

Scott’s wife, Jeanie, said 
her husband died in his sleep at his Las Vegas home on Thursday. He had battled health problems stemming from a genetic hormone deficiency and had been under the care of a home nurse.

Jeanie Scott said her husband stopped touring two years ago but continued recording. He is expected to be buried in Cleveland, Ohio, where he was born.

He first came to prominence in 1949 when he recorded the vocals as “Little Jimmy Scott” on the song Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool, recorded with the Lionel Hampton Band.

His name, however, did not appear on the record and he never received royalties from the jukebox hit.

He attracted attention, though, and went on to perform with Charlie Parker, Lester Young and Charles Mingus.

He gathered new generations of fans during the 1990s when he toured with Lou Reed and when he sang Sycamore Trees during the series finale of Twin Peaks.

Born into a family of ten on 17 July, 1925, Scott sang in a church choir as a child.

His signature high voice came from the genetic condition Kallmann syndrome, which kept him from experiencing puberty and stunted his growth.

He stood just under 5ft tall as an adult and his voice did not change.

Although that trait ultimately helped Scott stand out as a singer, he also suffered from congestive heart failure and had a lifestyle that included heavy drinking and smoking.

Despite his youthful sound, Scott brought heavy emotion to his delivery, often dramatically drawing out lyrics and singing far behind the beat.

The technique won praise from Billie Holiday, Nancy 
Wilson and Madonna, who 
after seeing him perform in 1994 told the New York Times that Scott was the only singer who ever made her cry.

Ray Charles, in an interview, said: “Jimmy had soul way back when people weren’t using the word.”

The album Falling In Love Is Wonderful came out in the 1960s and is widely considered his masterpiece, although he largely disappeared from view until his 1990s career revival.

In 2011, he said of working with a range of jazz legends. 
“I was living in New York. Sometimes our gang of musicians would go to Louis Armstrong’s home and play records. It was a lesson, like going to school at night.

“Ella Fitzgerald was an inspiration too, a unique artist. When you had an opportunity to be with people like them, you cherished it.”

 

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