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Jimmy Scott and the Jazz Expressions to Bring Soulful Jazz to Ramapo College’s Berrie Center

(PDF) (DOC) (JPG)January 18, 2002

(Mahwah) – Legendary jazz vocalist Jimmy Scott will perform with the Jazz Expressions Saturday, February 9 at 8 p.m. in the Berrie Center at Ramapo College of New Jersey. After five decades of being admired by fellow vocalists (Billie Holiday among them) and a few hip people, Scott is getting the international attention he deserves, with sold-out tours in Europe, Japan and across the United States.

Scott’s unique way with songs, which cuts to the emotional core of lyrics with its subtly delayed timing, carefully clipped syllables, and ringing sustains, has inspired numerous other singers for half a century. Nancy Wilson and Frankie Valli borrowed elements of Scott’s style in the 1960s, while Lou Reed and Madonna have championed his singing in recent times. “He is without a doubt the master of the ballad form,” Wilson once stated. Ray Charles, another Scott fan, has said that “he defined what ‘soul’ is all about in singing long before anyone was using that word.”

Billie Holiday, when once asked by a reporter which singers she liked, named only Scott. He returns the compliment by applying his distinctive style to one of her signature songs, “Strange Fruit,” poet Lewis Allan’s haunting tale of a lynching, sung on his most recent CD, Over the Rainbow. He also reprises a couple of his own signature songs, “Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool,” the ballad that first brought him fame in 1950 as featured vocalist with the Lionel Hampton big band, and “When Did You Leave Heaven?,” the old Bing Crosby favorite that Scott made all his own with a 1955 single that became a jukebox hit.

Scott was born in 1925 in Cleveland, Ohio, where he still lives. He was one of 10 siblings, all of whom sang in church to their mother’s piano accompaniment. Like one of his brothers, he never experienced puberty, the result of Kallmann’s Syndrome, a hereditary hormonal deficiency that stunted his growth and kept his voice from developing beyond boyhood. “I fought through it,” Scott says of the condition. “It didn’t matter. I was accepted into show business back in the 1940s. That helped a lot, and it never bothered me like it might some others.”

The singer’s big break came in 1949, when Lionel Hampton hired him and billing him as “Little Jimmy Scott.” “Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool,” recorded at Scott’s second session with Hampton, gave the singer his first and chart hit. Scott’s hit and three other songs recorded with the Hampton orchestra, along with early 1950s solo sides for the coral and Brunswick labels, were reissued in 1999 on the BFP CD Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool. Also released that year was the three-CD The Savoy Years and More, containing his 1952 recordings for Roost Records and his 1955-75 output for Savoy. Scott also made a magnificent album for Ray Charles’ Tangerine label and another for Atlantic, but Savoy threatened suit and had both suppressed.

The singer spent long periods away from the microphone, working for a time as a hotel shipping clerk and taking care of his ailing father. He returned to performing in 1990 and his career took off when Seymour Stein heard him singing at songwriter Doc Pomus’s funeral and signed him to the Warner Brothers-distributed Sire label. Scott recorded two albums for Sire, one for Warner Brothers proper, and one for Artists Only! before joining Milestone Records last year.

The past couple of years have seen Scott making triumphant tours of Europe and Japan, as well as being the subject of a Bravo Profiles television special in which he was saluted by such admirers as Alec Baldwin, Ruth Brown, Ray Charles, Lionel Hampton, David Lynch, Joe Pesci, Lou Reed and Frankie Valli.

Tickets for Jimmy Scott’s Ramapo College performance are $20, $15 for seniors and $10 for students with a valid I.D. For more information, please call (201) 684-7844.


About Ramapo College

Ramapo College of New Jersey is the state’s premier public liberal arts college and is committed to academic excellence through interdisciplinary and experiential learning, and international and intercultural understanding. The comprehensive college is situated among the beautiful Ramapo Mountains, is within commuting distance to New York City, was named one of the 50 Most Beautiful College Campuses in America by CondeNast Traveler, and boasts the best on-campus housing in New Jersey per Established in 1969, Ramapo College offers bachelor’s degrees in the arts, business, data science, humanities, social sciences and the sciences, as well as in professional studies, which include business, education, nursing and social work. In addition, the College offers courses leading to teacher certification at the elementary and secondary levels, and offers graduate programs leading to master’s degrees in Accounting, Applied Mathematics, Business Administration, Contemporary Instructional Design, Computer Science, Creative Music Technology, Data Science, Educational Leadership, Nursing, Social Work and Special Education, as well as a Doctor of Nursing Practice.


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