My love affair with Jimmy started I think in the early 2000’s…
As usual, I would come home to a dark, empty house. The TV was my company. Usually the voices from the box would be enough to thin my loneliness, but this evening I was restless. I started surfing the channels. On KCET my ear caught the name Peter Gabriel so I decided to keep it on that station to hear him. Instead, there appeared this small, thin, frail figure with a music stand in front of him, singing and telling a story that grabbed me from the very first note. His hair was slicked back, wearing a black suit—not very young but I was captured! His musicality was far beyond any singer or musician I have experienced, his soul was deeper than any person I have met. He was singing yet like talking at the same time of love songs that speared my heart. His phrasing and timing were impeccable—indescribable. He only sang one song (or that’s the only song I saw) and the program continued. I waited and waited to see if his name would be mentioned, but to my dismay, no.
I immediately began my panic search to find who is this person. As you can tell, I’m already obsessed! I started with the band members. They had no clue who I was talking about. Of course it’s probably because when I get excited my lips start to quiver and I can’t explain or describe very well. I get flustered and embarrassed and then defensive. Hopeless!
My search continued when I had lunch with Janice Marie Johnson of Taste of Honey. Of course she knew! She said, “That could only be Little Jimmy Scott.” And she was right! Thank you Janice Marie!
I immediately hit Tower Records and went to the jazz section. Thank goodness for Tower Records. I miss that place so much. And sure enough in the jazz bin was Jimmy Scott! Now the second search was with all his CDs, which one had that song he sang? I could not remember the lyrics. I picked a CD “Holding Back the Years” that had the song “Slave to Love” by Bryan Ferry. What a song—what an interpretation!!!!! Of course I went back and bought several more.
Fortunately he came to LA several years ago to the Jazz Bakery. With some friends (Taiji, Karen and Dan), stayed for two sets with tears in my eyes and my mouth wide open. My friends call me the “stalker”. I had front row, middle seat right in front of him! I believe that’s called Heaven.
Since then he has not been in the LA area that I’ve heard. Last fall (October 2007) the band was in New York at the Iridium. When we pulled up, I saw the billboard and it had listed Jimmy Scott was going to be there! My heart started to pound and I mentally started to plan a trip to return for that concert. When I inquired at the Box Office, I was told that his engagement was just cancelled due to illness. I was upset.
But just this month I found out Jimmy Scott was going to at the Jazz Bakery again! Of course I went with my same friends on Wednesday (opening night). I was shocked. He was in a wheelchair! When the first set began, I started to cry to hear him but also to see him in a wheelchair. As the set progressed I saw beyond my own sadness. I saw the twinkle in his eyes, the passion that came out of his voice, and I was in heaven again! Of course we stayed both sets and I went back on Friday with my sister. He was stronger and better than ever!
Life is too short not to experience—not to experience Jimmy Scott is not a life—it is not an option. If you know Jimmy like I know Jimmy, you will be blown away! Don’t miss the opportunity to experience a true singer artist. That’s my Jimmy Scott!
April 14, 2008
PS: I highly recommend reading “Faith In Time—The Life of Jimmy Scott” by David Ritz (author of Divided Soul: The Life of Marvin Gaye). I’d loan you my copy but it’s autographed so NO WAY!!!!!