“Jazz Monthly Feature Interview” Marilyn Scott
Interview by Baldwin "Smitty" Smith
Jazz Monthly: Well, I certainly am excited about my next guest here at JazzMonthly.com. One of the most incredible singers on the planet, she has such a strong and enduring voice. Her great new record is called Every Time We Say Goodbye. It has a wealth of great musicians on this record and there’s so much history with these songs and I am just stoked that she has joined me here at JazzMonthly.com. Please welcome the fascinating Ms. Marilyn Scott. Marilyn, how are you?
Marilyn Scott (MS): It’s good to be with you today, isn’t it?
Jazz Monthly: Yeah.
MS: Yeah, and you talk about a wealth of good music, the standards that are available to do, there’s just so many that you want to do because the music is so great and there’s so much of it, it’s hard to choose.
Jazz Monthly: Yes. Well, I think you made some great selections here, my goodness. When I first heard “Every Time We Say Goodbye,” you could’ve just knocked me over with a feather.
MS: Well, it’s a great song. I love the sentiment of it and the idea to do it really sad and slow is, for me, I think it pretty much puts it in its place because it’s a sad story, you know?
Jazz Monthly: Mm-hmm. But the arrangements are just gorgeous.
MS: Well, we didn’t get a chance to really figure out how to get in the tune and get out of the tune because we just pulled it off in about two and a half days.
Jazz Monthly: Wow.
MS: And I don’t really recommend that, but on the other hand, we had the chance to do it that way and make a record, so we did. But I think we found some ways to present the tune and obviously in a different light.
Jazz Monthly: Yes, absolutely.
MS: And atmosphere.
Jazz Monthly: Well, you created such a wonderful mood with it and it’s just beautiful, yes. How long did it take you to select the 10 tracks on this project?
MS: It was asked to me that we just do tunes that were standards and that were of a medium to slow type vibe. They really didn’t want to do anything too up. Well, I kind of forced them with a few things, but that was what they wanted and of course this is a Japanese record label, Venus Records, and so that’s what we did and I just kept giving them lists until they said “Yeah, that’s the one.”
Jazz Monthly: Wow, very cool.
MS: They had a couple of requests, you know, “Cry Me A River” and—
Jazz Monthly: Yes.
MS: So, you know, of course, I’d do that any time.
Jazz Monthly: Oh, absolutely. And “I Love Paris.” Wow, what a nice song.
MS: Yeah, and Mitch Forman put a little chart together for me on that. Mitch also did “I’m in New York,” which I think came off fairly good, I really did. I liked the vibe of that a lot and the changes that he kind of put behind it I think kind of made it feel really another kind of a very eerie, slow vibe.
Jazz Monthly: Yeah, it’s a great vibe. Have you and Mitch worked together very much?
MS: We played now and then live together and we don’t do as much as we used to, but gigs are kind of more few and far between these days, but I just love his writing, his musicianship and the choices that he makes when he plays just what I feel, and so it’s always a pleasure to play with Mitch. Yeah, he’s got a million ways that he likes to go and that really brings a big variety to what you’re trying to do at that moment.
Jazz Monthly: Right and he’s such a great musician, wow. Yeah, I was really impressed with his vibe on this project, I really was. And talk to me about working with Willie Jones.
MS: Willie. It’s the first time we’d met and of course I know his reputation. He’s a fine drummer and he notes the accent things and he’s so controlled, it’s really a pleasure. I really had a great time with him.
Jazz Monthly: Right, he has a unique rhythm. I love that.
Jazz Monthly: I just fell in love with “Caravan.” We’ve heard “Caravan” for years but your take on this song is so captivating.
MS: Well, you know, again, I went to a great keyboard player and arranger, John Beasley, and said “I really would want to keep this in.” He also did for me “East of the Sun. They didn’t include it on the CD, but it was up too, really, really up, and I loved it.
Jazz Monthly: Well, you made up for it with “Caravan.” It is just unbelievable. I must have played that one 10 times.
MS: Yeah, I wish that we could get out and play it a little bit because then I think it would even go in more of that direction.
Jazz Monthly: Yes, absolutely. This is just one impressive book of music that I am just so stoked about and I noticed that Russell made some contributions to the record, Russell Ferrante.
MS: Of course he did, yeah. My family and my friends have been so good to me through the years and, yeah, it was great. Russell did “Detour” and did “Somewhere.”
Jazz Monthly: Yes, and Cyrus Chestnut. I was using my visuals with him of doing some of the arrangements on this as well.
MS: Yeah. Had I had time, you know, because I’d met Cyrus also like I’d met Willie and Gerald, in just that moment that we just started working and it would’ve been great to put a little camera up and try to get some of this done. It went down so quickly but it was such a joy to be with everybody and get to know them and get to know their playing. Cyrus is a very talented man and a very sweet heart.
Jazz Monthly: Yes, you’ve got to appreciate that and maybe that’s why everything gelled so well and so quickly because when you have great musicians like that—
Jazz Monthly: And they have great personalities and just great human beings to start with—
Jazz Monthly: Things roll a lot smoother and we develop the same vibe quickly and we know what everyone’s expecting.
MS: Well, most of the projects that Venus does are instrumental and I think that they can run and put their boots on really quick with a three-day session and cut 15, 18 tunes, you know, and it’s all there. But when you throw a vocal in it, it’s different. It just changes everything and so it takes a little longer and it’s quite a bit to chew and to pull off. I think we did it most of the time, but the guys were really willing to try and I salute them for that because they didn’t know me very well.
Jazz Monthly: Well, they do now.
MS: But yet their playing was so generous and so open that by the time we were done we said that we hoped that we could play live together, all of us, to play some of these tunes because we wanted to play them more. I mean, you only get like two or three times at the most to go through the tune to do it and that’s including cutting it and then you’re on to the next tune, so you barely have a chance to really shape it.
Jazz Monthly: Yes, well, this is a little different doing everything in studio together.
MS: Well, we always do that. We always do it together, but we always have like months to do it in or two months to do it in and really have a couple of extra tunes so that if something doesn’t really come together, then you have something else that you can choose from and develop that tune too. But we always play all at once together and sing and cut the tune, but that’s over two or three days of just maybe if we cut five tunes in one day and five in another day and a couple more in the next and then you come back in and we fix solos and add maybe some percussion and there’s other things that you might want to do.
Jazz Monthly: Yes, it’s quite a bit of work, yet the results are just amazing, they really are.
MS: Yeah, well, and Ken Peplowski, he did a great job.
Jazz Monthly: Yes indeed. And I hear more and more how musicians are doing things across the country and long distance with computers and this kind of thing, but you always love that studio feel, you know? It’s just a beautiful thing.
MS: Yeah, I mean, you’ve gotta be willing to take a shot. You can’t judge yourself so seriously that it has to be absolutely perfect. It really doesn’t and it didn’t in the old days, and it just proves more about yourself if you can take the shot at it and risk a little bit, and I think it’s a good thing. It’s not so bad. But anyway, you do always want more time if you can have it, but if you can’t, when are you gonna get another shot? You may not.
Jazz Monthly: Right, absolutely. And it’s got that real deal kind of improv vibe that I always love because everything’s right there.
Jazz Monthly: It’s so instinctive, you might say.
Jazz Monthly: Yeah, and I think that’s the real litmus of great music, you know?
MS: I think it can be too and other times you wish it had been different but, I mean, that’s just the risk you take.
Jazz Monthly: Right.
MS: But that’s okay too.
Jazz Monthly: Yes.
MS: I can’t see taking yourself so seriously.
Jazz Monthly: Right, and you have a message, you get it there and you put it out there, and feel good about your work, what you do.
Jazz Monthly: And I like that about you, that you stand by what you do and what you say, and I always thought that was just wonderful.
MS: Well, I really love to write and I really treasure some of the things I’ve been able to write with other people that I’ve always been around. Oh, you know, growing up in Los Angeles and being around such great players, there’s just so many people to be able to sit down and try and write something with that whatever’s gonna happen of the tune, it’s always been a great thrill to me, and I’ve learned so much by writing with different people.
Jazz Monthly: Yes.
MS: About myself and about trying to take a tune, whether it be something we wrote or something that’s been done before by another artist, it’s all how you give it the breath, the life that is from that moment.
Jazz Monthly: Right, absolutely.
MS: So that’s always fun and I hope to be getting back and doing more of that too.
Jazz Monthly: Yes, and you mentioned doing some of these shows in live settings and I think that’s wonderful and I hope that you get some opportunities to do that because this is—
MS: I do too.
Jazz Monthly: This is some legendary great music and I’m sure the fans will certainly enjoy this because I’m certainly enjoying it, and I want to see it live too.
MS: Well, you know what, these are hard times for everybody. It’s hard to spend a nickel at anything.
Jazz Monthly: Oh yes.
MS: And music is taking a hit. It already had been from just the downloading and so on, but now it’s taking a different kind of hit because people have to keep that money in their pocket and I just want to say that there’s not a bigger thrill than live entertainment and going out and supporting the local clubs irregardless of the genre. It’s vital to music surviving and artists developing and bringing in new sounds, new voices, new ways of approaching some interesting things.
Jazz Monthly: Yeah, and I think it affords us the opportunity to be creative about getting the live music out there because times change, we have to change with it, and we look for opportunities to be creative, and I think this is another challenge to do that.
Jazz Monthly: And if everyone works together, I really think that we can do that. Because like you said, it is so important, it really is, and so I’m always so excited about new approaches and new ways of getting live music out there and letting people be entertained and allowing, like you said, musicians to be creative and be a part of live music and development.
Jazz Monthly: That is so wonderful. Your new record has to be in the mix of live entertainment, let me tell ya, because this is just great. I could just talk about this forever. Now, how can people get this record?
MS: Well, we did get it over here to The States and so it’s on Amazon and iTunes.
Jazz Monthly: Yes.
MS: You can find it that way.
Jazz Monthly: Very good and at your live shows.
MS: And it’s great because you can just download it and you can go to my Web site, www.marilynscott.com, and you can actually download, I think, a few things for free too, so however you want to get it, you can pick little snippets here and there.
Jazz Monthly: Oh, very cool.
MS: And I’m always willing to turn people on to music and if they want more, they can always get more through iTunes or something like that, but on the Web site you can have a few things.
Jazz Monthly: Yes, and speaking of your Web site, it’s a lovely Web site, always has been, and what I wanted to ask you about was Starting Green. Talk a little bit about Starting Green.
MS: I work on it every day and it actually started because my niece, she had a couple of beautiful kids, and I’ve always been an environmentalist and practicing everything that was about being what people say “green” and I wanted to do something and I started thinking about infants’ clothing, how important it is and making it available to mothers. There just hadn’t been that much out there and I’m very happy to say there’s more and more available web sites and stores that are carrying organic clothing for infants and toddlers.
So I started doing zero to 12 months and I make all the clothes here in Los Angeles and I get all the fabric that is grown in Texas and New Mexico, and so everything is grown here in The States. I try to make the essentials, you know, the little tops, the wraps, undershirts, onesies, we’re making a couple of little dresses now new for spring, and it’s all organic which is all on a little online store, but we’re learning and it’s been a lot of fun, it really has.
Jazz Monthly: Well, that’s wonderful.
Jazz Monthly: And that Web site is www.startinggreen.com, right?
MS: Correct, yeah.
Jazz Monthly: I’ve been there and looked at the clothes. I don’t have any babies, but I think it’s a wonderful thing.
MS: Thank you.
Jazz Monthly: Yes, starting out with kids and giving them something really organic and safe.
MS: Well, it’s amazing to think that there’s so much chemical pesticides in cotton grown, conventional or from the international world, and a lot of it is coming from Turkey and India and places like that now, so it’s important to know that it’s clean and it hasn’t been grown with these chemicals. It’s in that first year of a baby, their pores are still open. They really don’t close until they’re about a year old, so that’s when they’re most vulnerable and that’s when they can contract diseases and get allergies and asthma and things like that. It’s really important to go organic if you can find it and use it.
Jazz Monthly: Yes, it’s such a vulnerable time for infants at that time, like you mentioned.
MS: Mm-hmm, yeah.
Jazz Monthly: And we have the responsibility to give them the best start possible as parents.
MS: Yeah, and educate them and educate the mothers, and I think mothers, they’ll do it for their children before they even get a chance to do it for themselves, and once they start doing that, they’ll start doing it for everybody in the family.
Jazz Monthly: Yes, I like that.
MS: It’s gotta be affordable and it’s gotta replace what’s already there like the name brands.
Jazz Monthly: Yes, absolutely.
MS: Some of that stuff is made overseas so it’s hard to compete, but we’re getting better at it.
Jazz Monthly: Right. Well, I love this and you’re always so on top of everything.
MS: It’s fun, I swear, it really is, and it’s great to do other things. It’s a matter of creating plans and being part of the art of life.
Jazz Monthly: Yes, absolutely, and the music is always a part of that as well because your music is always so comforting and it always has a positive message that people can really enjoy, and I just want to thank you so much.
MS: Thanks, Smitty.
Jazz Monthly: Yes indeed. It’s my pleasure. Thanks again for doing this great record and for all the other wonderful things that you do, and please give my thanks to everyone at Venus and everyone that had anything to do with this record, the engineers, everyone, because they did a wonderful job with it.
MS: Oh, I’ll pass that along, absolutely. They’ll love hearing that.
Jazz Monthly: Absolutely. Marilyn, thanks again, all the best to you in 2009.
MS: Well, let’s see each other and let’s toast to this New Year of great music for everybody.
Jazz Monthly: It would be a pleasure.
MS: Get out there and see some live music.
Jazz Monthly: Thank you and I second that and I hope to see you out there as part of that live music because I tell you, it is always a wonderful time.
MS: Thank you.
Jazz Monthly: All right, we’ve been talking with the incredible Marilyn Scott. Her new record is called Every Time We Say Goodbye, it is 10 wonderful tracks, you must get this record, I highly recommend it. Marilyn, thanks again and all the best, my friend.
MS: Here’s to you, Smitty.
Baldwin “Smitty” Smith
For More Information Visit www.marilynscott.com and www.startinggreen.com
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