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Thursday, March 10, 2016

Brian's got a Nina Simone Trio

(SCOTT)-In our continued effort to keep thing here both interesting and varied, here is Brian's latest
submission, and as usual it's completely unexpected, unique, and of the utmost interest.


Anybody remember Point Of No Return, that corny American remake of La Femme Nikita? Saw it in high school, don't remember a thing about it, except the fact that Bridget Fonda's character loved Nina Simone. That little factoid somehow led to me becoming a Nina fan myself a few years later. The same reason why Thelonious Monk's appearance on the Se7en soundtrack caused me to become a jazz nut. Life is weird, huh?

I recently saw a trailer for a movie coming out this year about Nina, starring Zoe Saldana (Guardians Of The Galaxy, Star Trek). I understand there's some controversy about such a pretty, light-skinned actress playing a woman who looked so unconventional and unquestionably black. Still, I'm interested to see it - anything that raises public knowledge of Nina is a good thing - and figured I'd get the word and some music of Nina's out beforehand....

The woman was mercurial, unclassifiable, and very unique.  Her music was jazz, but also touched on folk, blues, and soul, all the time bearing the stamp of her distinctive vocals. There's something androgynous about that voice. And I don't mean that in a funny way; I think it's the central fascinating aspect of her sound. No one, except for maybe Cassandra Wilson, has had a voice like that in contemporary music.

I'm giving you 3 albums: The Amazing Nina Simone (1959), Nina With Strings (1965), and Nina Simone Sings The Blues (1966). Amazing was her second album, and contains "Blue Prelude" and "That's Him Over There", the two songs that bewitched me years ago. Strings actually is a hodgepodge with some added strings, but I still like it. It's contains the rhythmically driving "Blackbird" as well as the stomping "Chain Gang (The Work Song)", which she also plays piano on. BTW, this album is an unsequenced file, so you'll have to number the tracks. Sorry.

Sings The Blues is a great album, too. While no one will confuse Nina with Etta James, she acquits herself well. I particularly like "Backlash Blues" and the really funky "Buck". It also contains her second recording of "House Of The Rising Sun", which is done at a much faster tempo than her stark version off of At The Village Gate. The lady was one of a kind. Hopefully I plant a seed of fandom in some of you. Her voice has gotten me through many hard times. 

The bonus link for this post is an album by an old black comic most of you probably haven't heard of. Funny stuff, though. Really rare, and ripped from warm, slightly crackly vinyl. 




    1. Thanks. Always wanted to hear his stuff. I seem to remeber some controversy surrounding the Great Lord Buckley.

    2. Thanks. Always wanted to hear his stuff. I seem to remeber some controversy surrounding the Great Lord Buckley.

  2. Very nice! Here's another early Nina Simone LP, 1961's "Forbidden Fruit". I bought it for a friend who said that it rarely left her turntable back in the day. The title track is a bit of raucous R&B and shows off a sense of humor that isn't often associated with her music.

  3. "Chain Gang (The Work Song)" appears on Forbidden Fruit as well as Nina With Strings. According to Wikipedia, it's a Nat Adderly tune that Nina recorded several times.