Updated: May 6
Nina Simone was for a long time one of America's most exciting concert and night club performers. However many music critics said that she never transmitted to vinyl. Fortunately, the album Nina Simone and Piano (1969) appears to transcend this assertion.
The tracks that have done it are "I think It's Going to Rain Today," a hauntingly beautiful number written by Randy Newman and "Everyone's Gone to the Moon," an odd pop hit. When she sings this kind of song Nina Simone brings to it all the remarkable emotional quality she has shown in past ballads such as "Porgy" and in folk songs like "Sea Lion Woman." There is a quality in her voice which seems to make these songs into hymns. It is not that she communicates as a jazz instrument though she does do that. It is entirely a different thing. She gets drama into her voice by its sound even more than by the way she uses it for phrasing.
Her piano playing has evolved with this album. She was a trained classical pianist with a tremendous technique which in earlier years had a tendency to break loose and dominate her performance. With this album, her playing is economical and exquisitely tasteful. Just write to frame what she is singing. All the sounds on this album, the several voices and the clapping and the tambourine, are produced by Nina Simone.
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