Shirley Scott / March 14, 1934 - March 10, 2002

Soul-jazz organist Shirley Scott came out of the Philly scene to cut a ton of sides for Prestige, Moodsville, Impulse, Atlantic, Strata East, Muse, Cadet and more. Usually in either just an organ trio format or with an added horn (often her husband Stanley Turrentine), her records were a consistently grooving mix of bop, soul-jazz, gospel, standards, and pop & Motown covers, with the funk underneath and even some light Latin fare.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, she first played trumpet and then piano before switching to organ when she filled in on a club gig, immediately loving the instrument. She was in a trio with young John Coltrane in the mid-'50s before hooking up on a longtime musical partnership with Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis. She also cut some excellent records with her husband (who was often billed as "Stan Turner" for contractual reasons). In the '90s she finally returned to recording on piano. A victim of health effects of the diet drug fen-phen, she won an $8 million lawsuit against the company yet sustained heart-damaging effects before passing away in 2002.

She was influenced by Jimmy Smith (weren't they all?), Bill Doggett and Horace Silver and brought a deep gospel & blues approach to her style. She collaborated with not only Davis and Turrentine, but also with The Latin Jazz Quintet, Bernard Purdie, Kenny Burrell, Gary McFarland, Oliver Nelson, Harold Vick and others, as well as working in television. She remains the Queen of the Soul Jazz Organ.

Here's Shirley recording a vocal on her record Great Scott!! (Impulse!, '64). I am not sure how often she recorded vocals but it certainly wasn't regular.

Tagged: blues, Celebrate Icons, gospel, jazz, Philly, Shirley Scott, soul!, women in jazz

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