A major organist by 1958, Shirley Scott (1934-2002) always played with such soul and swing that she was not even overshadowed by such passionate stylists as tenor saxophonists Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis and Stanley Turrentine.
Born in Philadelphia, Scott studied piano and trumpet in high school before switching to the organ in the mid-1950s. She worked as a sideman with Lockjaw Davis during 1956-1960, had her own trio for a couple years, and in 1962 married Stanley Turrentine, working with him regularly in a memorable group. But Scott’s real breakthrough came in 1958 when she began a series of recordings for Prestige that lasted into 1964 and made her famous in the jazz world.
Eight reissue CDs cover most of the best of her prolific Prestige output. Trio Classics brings back music from Scott’s first marathon session in 1958, trio performances with bassist George Duvivier and drummer Arthur Edgehill that really show off the Shirley Scott style. Like Cozy contains Scott’s two Moodsville ballad albums and has rare piano features for her on four of the 16 selections. Soul Sister teams Scott with vibraphonist Lem Winchester in 1960 and with guitarist Kenny Burrell four years later. Legends of Acid Jazz has the complete contents of Hip Soul and Hip Twist, a pair of 1961 sessions in which Scott’s trio is joined by Stanley Turrentine on blues, ballads, and more challenging jazz pieces.
Blue Seven is a change of pace, a jam session–flavored quintet outing with trumpeter Joe Newman and tenor saxophonist Oliver Nelson that includes “Give Me the Simple Life” and “Wagon Wheels” in the diverse repertoire. Soul Shoutin’ reissues two of the best Scott-Turrentine collaborations on which they dig into such numbers as “Stolen Sweets,” “Secret Love,” and “Deep Down Soul.” Blue Flames, from the married duo in 1964, also contains plenty of soulful moments including on “Five Spot After Dark.” Finally, Workin’ has a sampling of Scott’s Prestige years, mostly in trios.
In the 1980s Shirley Scott taught jazz history at Cheyney University in Pennsylvania and was also the music director for her church. She remained a vital force on the jazz scene until her death in 2002.