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Love Songs by Nina Simone

Nina Simone (1933-2003) was a singer who, like Ray Charles, Bing Crosby and precious few others was, to appropriate The Duke’s phrase, "Beyond Category." Depending on whom you ask and what music store you enter, Ms. Simone’s recordings could be filed under Vocals, Jazz, Folk, Soul/R&B/Urban -- and she was comfortable with gospel, Kurt Weill, and Broadway show tunes. Her music was all of those "categories" and more elusive. She drunk deep of whatever she liked/needed from the well of American song, and sang in a voice clear, opulently deep (she could also make Isaac Hayes sound like Graham Nash) and full of vibrato, recalling somewhat the UK singer/songwriter Joan Armatrading. Also, she had some of the vocal agility of Joni Mitchell and some of the stark drama of Edith Piaf. Like the greatest song interpreters (Sinatra, Bennett, Billie Holiday, Helen Merrill, even La Streisand back-when), Simone could "transform" another’s song until you could swear the song had been hers "originally." [Though it should be noted Simone was also a fine songwriter herself.] The Association’s breezy confection "Cherish" becomes a elegy for love encompassing wistfulness, regret, anxiety, and melodrama. Bacharach’s debonair "Look if Love" gets new weight, and her take on Leonard Cohen’s "Suzanne" keeps the fanciful, poetic elements that are the heart of the song in an odd arrangement that I can only term a reggae-tango. (Many of these songs’ arrangements are by Ms. Simone.) Regardless of the marketing concept of the Legacy Love Songs series, this volume IS a truly varied and captivating entry-point into Nina Simone’s consummate virtuosity.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Nina Simone
  • CD Title: Love Songs
  • Genre: Jazz Vocals
  • Year Released: 2005
  • Record Label: RCA / Legacy
  • Musicians: N. Simone: vocals, piano, arranger & conductor; other musicians unlisted.
  • Rating: Five Stars
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