Avenues of Love
(Warner – 2000)
by Sidney Bechet-Mandela
Could someone at Universal please go into the vaults and dub a copy of Marilyn Scott’s 1979 album, “Dreams Of Tomorrow,” and send it to Warner Brothers in care of Scott and the Yellowjackets. Maybe if they revisit their first collaboration, it might re-ignite the spark that made Scott one of the music biz’ best kept secrets. They need to go back because it seems the artists seems to be just as confused as to what to do with Scott as the record company is. George Duke seems to have an idea, but then Warner doesn’t even know what to do with Duke.
Just like her ’96 Warner release, “Take Me With You,” the best tracks on “Avenues of Love” are the minority that are produced by Duke. And just like her previous release, the Duke tracks are loaded towards the front of the disc.
The legendary keyboardist produce three of the ten tunes, and they all appear within the first four selections. After track five, Bobby McFerrin’s “Heaven’s Design,” which the Yellowjackets first recorded with the composer, this album takes a nose dive. “Heaven’s Design,” which features members of Take Six singing background, contains the line “I know I’ve could’ve done better, I was so occupied.” That was the case for the rest of this album, or they were all coasting.
Unless these are the left-over takes from “Take Me With You,” the Jackets and Scott should maybe re-evaluate their 20 year plus relationship. The problem doesn’t seems to be the tunes they write together, but rather the lackluster production and execution.
The last time anyone checked, Warner Brothers was one of the leading offenders of casting off vocalists over 30 who straddle the jazz and pop line. If they don’t make Duke her producer, Scott could join that long list of talented singers without deals.