Nina Simone: Let It Be Me (2005)
Recorded in 1980 at a Quebec concert performance before thousands of adoring fans at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier of Place des Arts in Montreal, this just-reissued 33-minute album provides a personal glimpse of the persona that Nina Simone brought us.
The concert is unique. Simone performs some of the material alone, involves the audience on occasion, and works with bass and drums for a portion. Her audience rapport works well, since she talks to them in English and French. Informal in her presentation, the singer lets everyone know that she's their best friend.
Hannibal sits in on flute for "See Line Woman," a lovely blues chant that carries considerable charm. "Let it be Me" lets both voices float passionately over Simone's piano accompaniment. Their presentation moves slowly, giving plenty of room for the song's emotion to settle.
The concert closes with a rousing "Mississippi Goddam," which Simone wrote in 1963 or '64 to raise awareness of recent civil rights violations. Here, in her 1980 concert performance, she updates its message and reminds us that the job is not done. The world needs more caring people like Nina Simone.
Craig Morrison's liner notes provide a brief biography and insight to the music at hand. This recommended album, while brief, provides us with a valuable snapshot of the singer who was dubbed "The High Priestess of Soul."
Track Listing: Stars (Jesse); That's All I Want from You; Ain't Got No; I Got Life; Be My Husband; See Line Woman; Let It Be Me; Mississippi Goddam.
Personnel: Nina Simone: piano, vocals; Hannibal: flute, vocals; Tony Armstrong: bass; Lucky Wedgestone: drums.