Scaggs swings and sings
October 30, 2008
“Lido Shuffle” may be a dumb disco-era song, but anyone who remembers the 1976 hit knows Boz Scaggs can swing. And he can sing.
Both skills are on display on “Speak Low,” Scaggs’ second album of standards. It’s a bit of a leap from “Lido” to Hoagy Carmichael, but Scaggs succeeds where many pop singers of his generation have flopped.
One reason: Scaggs sings like a saxophone, his voice possessing a reedy lilt that gives even a ballad like “Invitation” an appealing pulse. He has the phrasing of a veteran jazzman and an expressive voice at both ends of the register.
And unlike many singers who make a late-career switch to standards, Scaggs chooses his material wisely. The 12-song set includes tunes by Carmichael, Duke Ellington, Kurt Weill and Rodgers and Hart, and they’re mostly in the category of you-know-it-when-you-hear it ” somewhat familiar but open to a fresh interpretation.
The arrangements feature woodwinds, occasional strings and collaborator Gil Goldstein on piano and keyboards. But throughout the focus is on Scaggs, who wraps his voice around one glorious melody after another, sounding glad disco’s dead.
CHECK THIS OUT: “Skylark” resembles a horn duet, with Bob Sheppard’s tenor saxophone a clever counterpoint to Scaggs.
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Scaggs played Saturday, Aug. 9, at the MontBleu Casino Resort and Spa.