Marilyn Scott Sings The Stories Behind The Songs / Nightcap

Marilyn ScottSinging The Stories Behind The Songs
Marilyn Scott speaks about ‘Nightcap’
by Paula Edelstein

P.E.: Congratulations on NIGHTCAP Marilyn! What a stellar celebration of the Great American Songbook. Marilyn, when did you first fall in love with these unforgettable songs?

Match a classic song stylist with a deep love for jazz, blues, soul, timeless melodies and lyrics and a magical, genre-defying transcendence can’t help but blossom. Over the course of seven previous recording Marilyn Scott has established herself as one of contemporary music’s premier singer/songwriters. Over the years, she has carried on a quiet but steady love affair with the Great American Songbook and has worked with a variety of well-known producers including the incomparable George Duke. Marilyn’s rendition of “The Look of Love” from her 1998 recording titled Avenues Of Love, earned George Duke a Grammy nomination and with Nightcap, Marilyn and George team up again to offer her fans eight stunning versions of songs that traverse the musical spectrum.

With the support of Vinnie Colaiuta on drums, Brian Bromberg on acoustic bass, Ray Fuller, Dean Parks, and Dori Caymmi on guitar, Brandon Fields on sax, Dan Higgins on flute and sax, Rick Baptist on trumpet and Lenny Castro on percussion, Nightcap offers listeners an enjoyable musical experience. Whether kicking back and taking in the insightful lyrics of “Here’s To Life,” or enjoying the updated bossa beat on “I Wished On A Moon,” Marilyn Scott sings the story behind the song with passion, soul and purpose.

Marilyn: I think I appreciate the writing of what we call “standards” today — that is music from as far back as the 30s to the present time. There are so many categories of “standards” so I really tried to choose from the 40s-50s era. I tried to pick things that are not overdone and at the same time reach for those that I connected to so that I could give them my own interpretation. I like a lot of songs but I can’t sing them as well as some can so I really try to reach for those that I can connect to.

P.E.: On Nightcap, you give your listeners the full range of moods – be it a song about frustration – “Yesterdays,” “Here’s That Rainy Day,” or songs about positive hope such as “Here’s To Life,” “Isn’t This A Lovely Day” or “Smile.” What is the most important aspect of a song for you – its melody, its ability to tell a story, its ability to withstand the test of time, or its ability to be reinterpreted in various musical styles?

Marilyn: Its message and the intermingling of the emotion from the chords that make that message hit your heart in a certain way so that it makes it something special for the listeners. That’s another reason that these songs are good for me because musically and lyrically they hit at the same time something that is true for me in my life. I think that is what draws us to any artist or any music that we like. When people like the music we make, we realize that it really can make a difference. With each new recording, I am able to further connect with old fans and make new ones and that’s a blessing. When I was recording Nightcap, I was sharing a part of my life through my favorite songs. While listening to my CD, I hope everyone can make it a part of themselves.

P.E.: Who were some of your early jazz vocal influences? Teachers?

Marilyn: Definitely Betty Carter, Sarah Vaughan, Etta James, Ella Fitzgerald, Joe Williams, Andy Bey. There were a lot of people that sang other styles of music and of course when you listen to their music, it undeniably has an effect on you.

P.E.: On Nightcap, you’re reunited with George Duke who earned a Grammy nod for his arrangement of “The Look of Love” a song on your AVENUES OF LOVE CD. But this marks the first time that Duke has produced and arranged an entire recording for you. What was is like working with him again?

Marilyn: Oh, I always enjoy working with him. I think he works so well with vocalists. He can just walk right through it and he brings out the best of your qualities. No matter who it is – whether it’s the percussionist or myself – he gets their input and he loves making music that way.

P.E.: He definitely has a chemistry with the artists he produces. There’s Brian Bromberg, Vinnie Colaiuta, and of course Ray Fuller. How did you recruit them for the Nightcap project?

Marilyn: Well, it’s not hard especially living in Los Angeles – knowing everybody, working with everybody, and living a musical life. So when you think of certain kind of projects that you want to put together, I know for myself, you think of those players you’ve worked with before.

P.E.: Marilyn, you’re well known on the session vocalist scene but as a leader, there is much more responsibility. What do you enjoy most about being a leader of your own ensembles?

Marilyn: I will always consider my friendship with the members of Tower of Power to be the most influential, as they helped teach me how to work in the studio and how to be a session vocalist. Now, as a leader, I’m thankful that I’m still around to be able to garner the likes of the people that I can play with and to make good music. I really can attribute it to the fact that I’m lucky and blessed to be in that position. I’m at wonder every time I have to pick up the phone and invite and everybody’s always gratefully saying, “let’s go.” So I think it’s a good time for making music now with so much bad luck that has hit the recording business over the last few year, I figure in a way, think they’re interested in reuniting people to make quality music and forgetting about making it the most expensive project ever. I think if you get quality people involved, it’s going to sound terrific and the musicianship is going to be able to shine because of it.

P.E.: Is there any one format that you enjoy most – producing, performing, writing?

Marilyn: With every project, it leads you to the next thing and with this one, it’s been almost like taking a step back. It reunites me with my some of my love of blues, R&B and great writing. It can be considered pop writing, jazz writing, etc. So it makes me want to do more of those things and write in those ways.

P.E.: You’ve an extensive background in musical theatre and motion picture soundtracks. Do you intend to return to the musical theatre or singing on film scores?

Marilyn: I’ve met incredible people in those fields and I had a great experience. I do a lot of poetry and a lot of writing of all types of songs. When you’re in this field, it really does embrace every aspect of it. So we all pick up the same brush, we all have some poetry skills or acting skills or whatever. I guess it’s whatever opportunity that walks your way or whatever time envelope that you put yourself into, that you find yourself artistically.

P.E.: Please give us some insight into the PRANA Foundation. I know that it teaches young people about racial tolerance and other aspects of living in a multi-cultural world.

Marilyn: It’s a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide funding for anti-bias education for children. Earlier this year, we partnered with the Anti-Defamation League in Los Angeles to help launch a program with the L.A. Unified School District called the Miller Early Childhood Initiative, which provides anti-bias training for teachers, caregivers and parents of pre-school children 3-5.

P.E.: Thank you so much for the interview and here’s to continued success with your career, the Prana Foundation and of course, Nightcap.

Marilyn: Thank you, Paula.


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