There’s something eternal about Little Jimmy Scott. The most revered jazz vocalist on the planet sadly remains a mystery to most music fans. Twin Peaks fans may remember Little Jimmy from the final episode of the show and the prequel soundtrack of Fire Walk With Me.
Series creator and film director David Lynch himself said of Little Jimmy, “He [Little Jimmy Scott] does things to a song that nobody else does. So he’s an original, an original voice. It’s haunting. And it’s so pure soulful.”
When asked by Nicholas Abrahams to describe the voice of Little Jimmy Scott Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons said, “Jimmy Scott, peerless, spirit brother of Billie Holliday, sings like a sobbing diamond. Now a great elder, he is untouchable, his sense of timing is mystical.” And he’s not kidding. I had the honor of meeting Little Jimmy Scott in a San Antonio bookstore in the late nineties. Scott was doing a CD signing and playing with a friend’s jazz trio. When I finally got the nerve to go up and meet Scott, being a Lynch and Twin Peaks fan, the first thing I asked him about was my favorite song from “Sycamore Tree.” Little Jimmy smiled as he shook my hand and said, “I remember that…” and then out of the ether, Scott started singing “Sycamore Tree” in perfect pitch, tone and melody. I was amazed and literally left speechless as he sung an obscure song written by David Lynch and composer Angelo Badalamenti years ago, as if he recorded it yesterday.
What I remember most about meeting Little Jimmy Scott was how warm and generous he was. Scott actually put his arm around me as he shook my hand, smiling while telling me that I reminded me of an old friend he grew up with in Spanish Harlem in NYC. I was flattered. Scott was genuine and the sad thing that most of my music friends, including my girlfriend, at the time had no idea who this legend was.
Lou Reed once said, “we all bow at the altar of Jimmy Scott.” All you have to do is press play to realize what Lou Reed said about watching Little Jimmy Scott sing is like, “like seeing Hamlet or Macbeth all rolled up into a song.” I should know, meeting the great Little Jimmy Scott as he crooned the majestic “Sycamore Trees” to me was an honor and a soundtrack moment I will never forget.