It’s been a long stretch since “Lowdown,” “Lido Shuffle” and “What Can I Say?,” Scaggs’ hits of the mid-’70s, but the years have served him well. “Speak Low” is his second CD of standards. And at first glance the immediate image that came to mind was that of yet another aging rock artist seeking resuscitation in the Great American Songbook. But the first couple of tunes — “Invitation” and “She Was Too Good To Me” - quickly dissuaded me of that notion. This is a set of performances from a guy who places everything he has at the service of the music, not vice versa (as in several other CDs of standards by former rock stars). Scaggs’ vocals, the warm, reedy quality of his sound, the conversational quality of his phrasing, the innate sense of swing, have a lot more to do with Johnny Mercer than they do with Mick Jagger. Add to that the superb selection of tunes - ranging from “I’ll Remember April,” “I Wish I Knew” and Mercer’s “Skylark” to “Ballad of the Sad Young Men,” “Dindi” and “Save Your Love For Me” — the Gil Evans-inspired charts by Gil Goldstein, and Bob Sheppard’s fine saxophone work.
This is a review By Don Heckman The International Review Of Music
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