Cleveland jazz vocalist Jimmy Scott was born in 1925, one of 10 children. In his teens, he was discovered by comedian Tim McCoy, who took him on the road and showed him the ropes. By 1948, Jimmy joined Lionel Hampton's band and was dubbed "Little Jimmy Scott." After years of touring the world, he signed with Ray Charles' Tangerine label in the early '60s, which produced Falling in Love Is Wonderful. But just as the album hit the streets, it was dogged by contract issues and shelved for nearly 40 years. Scott quit the music business in the early '70s and went home to Cleveland, where he worked a number of menial jobs. He staged a comeback in the early '90s, with his Grammy-nominated album All The Way, produced by Tommy Lipuma. Collaborations over the course of Scott's 6o-year slow-burn career include Count Basie, Gordon Jenkins, Earl "Fatha" Hines, Lou Reed, and Cyrus Chesnut. The track "How Deep Is the Ocean," from the decades-late re-release Falling in Love Is Wonderful, is an absolute must-have.
Artist: Jimmy Scott
Song: How Deep Is the Ocean
Album: Falling in Love Is Wonderful
The Dodos are the San Francisco-based duo of guitarist Meric Long and drummer/experimental percussionist Logan Kroeber, founded in 2006. They've styled an organic grocery of folk-rock sound. Collaborations include John Askew and Cory Gray. The title "God?," from their sophomore 2008 release, Visiter, has an abundance of charm. Currently touring.
Artist: The Dodos
Songwriter, guitarist, and producer Manu Chao was born Jose-Manuel Thomas Arthur Chao in 1961, into a left-wing household in Fascist Spain. Soon thereafter, his family chose exile in Paris, to escape the boot heel of Generalissimo Francisco Franco, returning only after the Spanish dictator died in 1975. In the '80s, Chao burned through styles--including punk, ska, Latin, reggae, and rockabilly. His band, Mano Negra, with his brother, Antoine, found success throughout South America and Europe before Chao went solo. In 2004, Chao put on the producer's hat for the Victoires de la Musique-winning and Grammy-nominated Amadou et Mariam album, Dimanche a Bamako. "Politik Kills," from Chao's 2007 release La Radiolina Is..., is world class.
Artist: Manu Chao
Song: Politik Kills
Album: La Radiolina Is...
Kansas City blues singer and pianist Julia Lee was born in 1902. She began her career in brother George Lee's band in the Roaring '20s. By WWII, Lee had been discovered by A&R legend Dave Dexter Jr. (he later rejected the Beatles), who featured her version of "Come on Over to My House Baby" on a Capital Jazz compilation; the side turned into a jukebox hit and launched her solo career. Lee's credits include a 1949 White House performance at the invitation of President Truman and an appearance in the 1957 Robert Altman film "The Delinquents." Collaborations include Charlie Parker, Benny Carter, Red Norvo, and Red Nichols. Lee passed away in 1958 but leaves behind her clever signature style. Remember her with the 1948 track "King Size Papa," from Kansas City Calling.
Artist: Julia Lee
Song: King Size Papa
Album: Kansas City Calling
Rafter is singer/songwriter and producer Rafter Seth Roberts (also half of duo Bunky with Emily Joyce). Roberts, born 1975, grew up on a commune in Sebastopol, California. After graduating high school, he did some finger-bleeding in New York City and on his 4-track, before returning to California. Roberts, who is a new father, has a studio in San Diego with creative partner Glen Galloway. They've engineered and recorded indie faves from Sufjan Stevens to Rogue Wave. Collaborations include Castanets, The Fiery Furnaces, and Arab on Radar. The folk-disco-infused title "Juicy," from Rafter's 2008 release Sweaty Magic, has a fresh swagger, plus a nostalgic vocoder effect.
Album: Sweaty Magic