Mansur Scott Harlem Quartet: Sometimes Forgotten, Sometimes Remembered (2013)
"Nature Boy," opens with bassist Wayne Batchelor's atmospheric, reverberating lines. Scott's shakers usher in the main melody of this standard with deference, his saxophone-like vocal acrobatics soaring over pianist Carlton Holmes' primal and percussive chords, which lead the trio's hypnotic vamps. The resulting aura is earthy yet sublimely tenebrous, fitting Scott's edgy and daring interpretation and embellishment. Holmes takes a simmering, bluesy solo that flows seamlessly out and inside the tune's harmonic structure
Even the sweet ballad "Nearness of You" is imbued with a thrillingly dark mood, maintaining its mellifluous character without being syrupy. The opening instrumental bars are exquisitely lyrical and set the stage for Scott's yearning and evocative baritone. London native Batchelor's heady sound and poetic improvisation, together with drummer Marc Johnson's rumbling, angular polyrhythms, enhance the introspective theatricality of the piece.
Scott's phrasing is reserved but passionate, taciturn yet dramatic. This is most evident on the anguished "Miss Otis Regrets," his band mates' understated and haunting refrains creating the perfect ambience for the singer's spare and clear delivery of its tragic story, and superb "Inspired By John Coltrane"; perhaps the album's most adventurous and creative piece, it is like a complex devotional chant filled with ethereal notes, Scott's clear and wistful bells framing his hushed and lilting enunciation of its poetic lyrics.
It is a shame that there aren't any other Mansur Scott recordings widely available. This album clearly demonstrates that he is in a unique class of jazz musicians who, in addition, to technical proficiency, possess a profound intellectualism and a moving, visceral soulfulness.
Track Listing: This Masquerade; Natureboy; The Nearness of You; Miss Otis Regrets; In A Sentimental Mood; Song For My Father; Inspired By John Coltrane; When the Lady Sings; Days Of Wine And Roses..
Personnel: Mansur Scott: vocals, percussion; Carlton Holmes: piano; Wayne Batchelor: bass; Marc Johnson: drums.
Record Label: Bluejazz