The Ultimate Nina Simone

by: Nina Simone

On this celebrity's choice tour through the Verve archives, singer Dianne Reeves comes up with a most interesting, idiosyncratic selection of the Philips recordings of Nina Simone, intuitively sequencing the tracks herself. Reeves zeroes in on the experimental side of Simone, celebrating her differences from Tin Pan Alley-oriented singers, even equivocating a bit on the term "jazz singer" in describing her style. Reeves mostly avoids standards like the plague, opting for unusual songs like the stark a cappella "Images"; the chain-gang-styled "Be My Husband"; the hypnotic, percussion-backed "Come Ye"; and an example of Simone on piano only, "Blue on Purpose." Besides being her congenitally feisty self, Simone is also caught displaying poignant moodiness on "The Other Woman," a live remake of her hit "I Loves You, Porgy," and "Don't Explain" -- all sequenced together. Any adventurous listener coming to Nina Simone for the first time through this collection will definitely be tempted to explore more of her output. ~ Richard S. Ginell

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