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Live at Ronnie Scott's
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Wadham Hendring WHCD 006 (1987 UK)

Recorded live at Ronnie Scott's, a legendary jazz club in London's Soho. Available also on DVD.

Review by Chris Albertson on Stereo Review

See all releases of this album.
Tracks sorted by session (sort by title or by number)
1984 November 17: London (UK) Ronnie Scott's
 1 [6:54] God, God, God   Nina Simone

 2 [2:33] If You Knew   Nina Simone

 3 [2:36] Mr. Smith   Bertolt Brecht, Kurt Weill

 4 [6:06] Fodder in Her Wings   Nina Simone

 5 [4:07] Be My Husband   Andy Stroud

 6 [2:42] I Loves You Porgy   George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin, DuBose Heyward

 7 [2:19] The Other Woman   Jessie Mae Robinson

 8 [6:41] Mississippi Goddam / Moon over Alabama   Bertolt Brecht, Kurt Weill, Nina Simone (medley)

 9 [4:40] For a While   Bob Gaudio, Jack Holmes

 10 [2:55] See-Line Woman   George Bass

 11 [1:11] I Sing Just to Know That I'm Alive   Nina Simone

 12 [3:36] My Baby Just Cares for Me   Walter Donaldson, Gus Kahn

Liner Notes by David Lands
Nina Simone is the undisputed first lady when it comes to piano-playing vocalists, with a soulful tone that can turn the very blandest lyrics into a moving experience. Her classical training at Juilliard gave her the basis for a powerful jazz piano technique, placing much emphasis on dramatic punctuation. Her appearances always draw packed houses, and this live set recorded at Ronnie Scott's in 1984 indelibly underlines her appeal.

Opening with the very moving and personal statement of her belief that is 'God, God, God', Nina builds up a repetitive yet infectious rhythm that reaches a crashing climax, then sums it all up with a spoken finale. The very beautiful 'If You Knew', a Simone original, dovetails neatly into 'Mr Smith', a number that finds Nina at her tenderest with only a gentle tapped cymbal from Paul Robinson for a backbeat. The plaintive lyrics address the sensitive subject of slavery, and the lady's bitterness is self-evident in her emotional delivery.
Simone switches between electric harpsichord and piano for 'Fodder On Her Wings' and some poignant observations on man's inhumanity to man. She even renounced the USA in the late Sixties and relocated in Liberia for a time, leaving little doubt as to where her affinities lie. Inducing a subtle, swaying rhythm from the drummer, she forsakes her piano to turn in a chant-like statement for 'Be My Husband'. Almost mesmerised by the loping beat, she brings it to an abrupt halt with a shout before reprising the song again, obviously enjoying the African connections in her music.
Nina Simone's first hit record, 'I Loves You Porgy', peaked at Number 18 in August 1959 on Bethlehem Records. Here, the number gets a wistful treatment as the songstress introduces some jazz phrasing into the arrangement. Gershwin would have loved it! That great female favourite, 'The Other Woman', offers wise – if sometimes catty – comments on the age-old problem of the eternal triangle, Simone's powerful reading reaching its own sad conclusion.
Protests feature heavily in the lady's repertoire, and her political leanings are nowhere expressed more effectively than on the vigorous 'Mississippi Goddam'. She cleverly fuses 'Moon Over Alabama' into the lyrics in a telling and powerful comparison with Tin Pan Alley's attitude towards the Southland, her own civil rights standpoint showing the two distinct impressions of life in Dixie for the negro. 'For A While' is dedicated to her lost lover: a moving moment of quiet regret.
Another rhythmic chant ('See-Line Woman') offers some light respite from the heavy mantle of deep soul that pervades this performance. Its buoyant mood is echoed by 'I Sing To Know I'm Alive', a tribute to the 1984 Trinidad Carnival. By popular demand, she concludes this stirring set with 'My Baby Just Cares For Me'. Originally recorded at the same time as 'Porgy', it became a surprise UK hit in 1987 after featuring as the theme fora televised perfume commercial. The level of audience participation suggests the song had already achieved classic status, while a fine jazz solo from Simone proves she should feature her improvisational talents more often.

Drummer Paul Robinson deserves credit for his sympathetic handling of the rhythm, but the day belongs to Nina. She handles the audience with the authority of a schoolteacher, demanding attention when the music gets serious and playing with them during lighter moments.
Nina is a gifted composer, whose 'Young Gifted And Black' enjoyed great success in the hands of Aretha Franklin. Her music is hard to categorise, blending musical forms from around the globe into a very expressive and personal cocktail that is uniquely her own. This recording shows off the lady at her powerful best, with a voice that can move mountains.