Onzy Matthews was an arranger and pianist who wrote for Lou Rawls, Esther Phillips, Ray Charles, Duke Ellington and others without achieving any fame. Matthews recorded 51 selections as a leader, all of which are on the three-CD Onzy Matthews (Mosaic Select). The program, which includes 29 previously unreleased performances, features some of the top Los Angeles-area jazz musicians of 1963-64, including the legendary trumpeter Dupree Bolton, altoists Earl Anderza and Gabe Baltazar, and tenors Curtis Amy and Clifford Scott. The music, played by groups ranging from combos to big bands, includes hard-bop, bossa nova and a few commercial numbers. Capitol only chose to issue two LPs during Matthews’ life, which ended in obscurity in 1997, but Mosaic has now made it possible to fully enjoy and appreciate his overlooked talents as an arranger, pianist and (on three songs) vocalist.
After a number of years paying her dues as a backup singer and recording for a number of indie labels with mixed success, Marilyn Scott finally brings her crisp, romantic vocal stylings to Warner Bros. on Take Me With You, a stylish potpourri of pop, soul, jazz and Brazilian influences tailor made to fit the definition of the finest in Adult Contemporary music. While Scott's powerful yet subtle and smoky voice ties all the loose threads together, the collection's strengths lie in its frolicsome diversity. Scott changes moods depending on the producer du jour. George Duke elicits cool, straightforward pop, while longtime cohorts Russell Ferrante and Jimmy Haslip forge her range from standard to hip-hop influenced jazz. Ironically, the most exciting track, a percolating Brazilian treatment of Stevie Wonder's "Bird of Beauty," is also the least commercial from a corporate marketing standpoint. Without the radio typical sheen, producer Dori Caymmi allows Scott to romp through a loping playground where even elegant Kevyn Lettau-like Portuguese is within the realm. Perhaps the reason it's taken Scott so long to break through on a higher level is the type of stunning diversity typified here. It's been worth the wait.
A top-notch adult contemporary vocalist still awaiting a well-deserved crossover commercial breakthrough, Marilyn Scott adds powerful fuel to her cause on Avenues of Love by helping herself with a well-balanced array of production and songwriting talent. George Duke surrounds her with party voices and a kneejerking Latin groove on a playful list of dance steps on "I Like to Dance," then surrounds her clear, sensuous voice with airy, billowing synth cushioning on the Bacharach-David classic "The Look of Love." Scott and bassist Jimmy Haslip reroute to Memphis on Michael Ruff's Wilson Pickett-like pick me up, "Love Is a Powerful Thing," engaging a two-piece horn section that sounds even larger. The Yellowjacket touch is in full effect on the picturesque "Avenida del Sol," which approximates an update of the gentle Astrud Gilberto sound; the tune was written by Scott and Bob Mintzer, and produced by Scott, Haslip, and Russell Ferrante. Scott's greatest gift here is her sense of modulation; she belts like crazy on the funk pieces, but recognizes the emotional power of restraint on the ballads.