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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!

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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Nina Simone - The Montreux Years - New Release Review


I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, The Montreux Years, from Nina Simone and it's really a great representation of her live performances. This compilation covers all of her 5 Montreux performances. Disc one a composite of cuts from various years and disc two her 1968 performance in full. Opening with a demonstration of her classical training on piano on Someone to Watch Over Me, Simone really gets the keys rolling showig real keyboard prowess and power. On shuffle track, I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free, Simone lays down a simple piano line and sings with her casual but succinct style with heavy piano accent. Very cool. See-Line Woman with backing vocal has it's southern blues roots and chant like nature. Very much like primitive field hollars, it relates to prostitutes lining up to perform "favors" as the sailors come to shore. Don't Smoke In Bed is a fairly classic Simone track with it's dramatic classical/jazz piano presentation and Simone's soulful voice. African Mailman is a vibrant instrumental starting with piano and light snare, slowly building with tom toms, cowbell, and cymbal. Very cool. Liberian Calypso has a strong island rhythm with piano and percussion under Simone's strong vocal and crowd audience vocal participation. I really like this release but one of my favorites is Ne Me Quitte Pas, a Belgian ballad sung in french. With only her piano and vocal, this is a terrific track. Rocking the close on cd one is My Baby Just Cares For Me with Simone really rolling the keys. Her ability to get in the slot and drag you there with her is remarkable and this track is a cool closer for the disc. 

Disc 2 opens with Simone classic, Go To Hell with it's bulldozer like approach and terrific followthrough. Simone is on top of her game here and the vocals are strong and clear. On her own super hit, Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood, really popularized by the Animals, Simone maintains her easy, laid back approach. With Buck Clarke on drums, Gene Taylor on double bass, Sam Waymon on organ and perecussion and hot guitar by Henry Taylor, this is strong. Funky, Backlash Blues has a real groove, created by Clarke and Taylor, reinforced by Simone on vocal and piano. Great changeup in the middle of the set. The set is wrapped with two encores, Gin House Blues and I Wish I How It Would Feel To be Free. Gin House Blues gets a firey, R&B,  Ray Charles like make over that really gets the stage romping like a revival tent with extended solos by Clarke, Waymon, and Taylor. Very nice. Winding it down on I Wish, Simone has the audience in her hands. This is the perfect closer having laid it all out there and giving the crowd a chance to catch their breath with a gospel like sway.

This is an excellent release and one long coming.

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