J E F F * D A N I E L S
Pepper Williams, Decades Past (Keysax Records) (2009)
Main Gazane, Tit for Tat (Noho Records) (2010)
Andrea Razzauti, Painting the Music (Blu Ara Enterprise) (2009)
Brian Bromberg, It Is What It Is (Mack Avenue Records) (2009)
B R I A N * S O E R G E L
Steve Oliver, Global Kiss (SOM)
Jaga Jazzist, One-Armed Bandit (Ninja Tune)
Walter Beasley, Live in the Groove (Affable)
David Benoit, Earthglow (Heads Up)
P E T E R * B O E H I
Brazilian Love Affair - Latin Love Uma Brasileira (1996)
This CD is a gem, offering an easy and laid-back mix of brazil songs sung in portuguese and english, all wrapped up in an excellent setting of top-notch musicianship and spirited playing, oscillating between latin, brazil, jazz & pop. Truly outstanding!
Grover Washington, Jr. - Grover Live (2010)
This live recording by the late great saxophonist has been unearthed by Jason Miles from Grover's private collection of tapes, it was captured in 1997 and features Grover with a great band playing his greatest hits and some current songs of that time in an energetic setting. Grover still is sorely missed!
Chris Standring - Blue Bolero (2010)
This is a truly intelligent and captivating piece of music by guitarist Chris Standring, which with one foot is firmly grounded in the smooth jazz area, but with the other exploring new frontiers. Very statisfying!
Jaared - Manhattan Nights (2010)
This is one of the best smooth jazz albums of recent times by saxophonist Jaared who is returning to the scene with a vengeance. It grooves and excites, it is full of great melodies and top notch playing. Excellent!
Bob Berg - Bob Berg Best (1993)
My nod to the past goes to one of my all-time favorite sax players Bob Berg who died in a car crash several years ago. This best of CD features some of his best tracks and above all his superior playing. Truly an icon!
D E N I S * P O O L E
‘Let The Whole World Know (Your Song)’ by Mindi Abair from her current CD In Hi-Fi Stereo. Arguably the album’s best song, it finds Mindi on vocals delivering the sort of ‘feel good’ performance that is totally commensurate with the sweetest of soul music.
‘Pan Funk’ by Bickley Rivera from the album Chillin’ After Five; Legitimizing the steel pan drums as a smooth jazz instrument, this sizzling number includes wonderful sax and flute from German born and Holland based Praful.
‘Hoodoo’, by Jack Prybylski, from his brand new release Out Of The Box; This sensational Grace and DeBoer composition ripples with typical Four 80 East intensity, features great sax from Prybylski, and has all the makings of being one of the year’s most memorable tracks.
The sensational title cut from Jonathan Butler’s wonderful new album So Strong. Despite the fact that ‘Urban AC’ and ‘Steppers’ mixes are also included, there is nothing to touch the easy grooving ‘original’ version that has a vibe to die for and is a shimmering example of urban jazz at its best.
‘I’m So Proud’ by soulful vocalist Vivian Male from her gorgeous CD Our Day Will Come. This spectacular cut came originally from the Impressions 1964 recording ‘Never Ending Impressions’ yet here Male, in duet with the excellent Ray Greene, makes it sound brand new.
R O N A L D * J A C K S O N
Mindi Abair, In Hi-Fi Stereo (Heads UP)
Terje Lie, Urban Vacation (TCat Records)
Jonathan Butler, So Strong (Mack Ave. Records)
Gerald Albright, Pushing the Envelope (Telarc)
Welcome to the latest issue of Denis Poole’s Secret Garden, the page that offers a personal perspective on the very best from the world of smooth jazz and classic soul. I am indebted to Edwina Goody for drawing my attention to an excellent new album from keyboard player Attila Molnar. Titled Dreams this tight twelve track collection is a noteworthy debut for a performer who, as well as playing keys in the touring bands of Jaared and Slim Man’s Bona Fide, is also an accomplished writer and producer. In fact for Dreams Molnar composes eleven tunes and produces throughout. The result is a welcome addition to this year’s crop of contemporary jazz releases.
Born in 1970, in a small Hungarian town near the Austrian border, Attila Molnar was the only child of musician parents. At six years of age, after experimenting with various instruments, he discovered keyboards and this fortuitous choice propelled him first into a prestigious jazz piano programme which was sponsored by the National Conservatory of Jazz and then later into a career as a professional musician. In 1997 Attila and his wife relocated to the USA where in 2005 he produced, co-wrote, and recorded the CD I Got Your Back for Toni Hutchinson. Subsequently, in 2008, Molnar auditioned for internationally acclaimed smooth jazz group Bona Fide and in so doing became the band’s keyboard player.
Dreams gets under way with the foot tapping ‘Attitude’ which proves to be an authentic slice of textbook smooth jazz. It’s a vibe that fits Molnar’s style to perfection and although ‘True’ provides more of the melodic same, the complex yet funky ‘Secret Place’ reeks with an understated but compelling urgency. ‘Close To You’ is a track that benefits from a restrained, hip swaying Latin rhythm and is in the good company of the retro tinged ‘La Isla Loca’ which evokes the musical excitement of the island of Puerto Rico.
‘Caribbean Eve’ started out as a previously unreleased Christmas number and the tranquil tone it injects is repeated with ‘My Daisy’ which is dedicated to Molnar’s wife. The tenderness of these tunes is in sumptuous contrast to the jazzy ‘What’s Going Down!’ and another change of pace delivers the introspective ‘Two Hearts’ that is memorable both for Molnar’s groove drenched keys and some wonderful sax from the always superb Jaared.
Starting out in mellow mode, the romantic title cut quickly develops into another great showcase for Molnar’s intricate playing whilst the album’s only cover finds him coming up with a tidy and totally appealing version of Roberta Flack’s 1974 stateside chart topper ‘Feel Like Making Love’. It is likely to make a mark as one of the best covers of 2010 and another personal favourite is the aptly titled ‘The Best’. This melodic mid tempo charmer says everything about what Attila Molnar is about.
Do you have any comments on what you have found in this edition of the Secret Garden? If so please e-mail me on DenisPoole2000@Yahoo.com.
Written by The Jazz Gypsy
Sunday, May 30, 2010
Gates Open 3:00 pm
Concert Begins – 5:00 pm
Village Green At Oso Viejo Park
24932 Veterans Way
Mission Viejo, CA 92692
If you have to grow older, this is the way to celebrate!
Jazz and music aficionados from near and far will flock to the Village Green at Oso Viejo Park on May 30th for the annual KSBR Birthday Bash Jazz Festival.
Saddleback College radio station KSBR (88.5 FM) is partnering with the City of Mission Viejo to host its 21st Birthday Bash celebration at 24932 Veterans Way. The festival, a signature fundraising event for KSBR-FM, will feature more than 40 jazz artists including David Benoit, Hiroshima, Greg Adams, and Evelyn Champagne King.
The annual bash is a 4-hour concert featuring talented contemporary jazz artists in a freewheeling jam session. This year's lineup includes big stars that will be announced on stage along with famous favorites such as Brian Bromberg, Chieli Minucci, Dan Siegel, Richard Smith, Freddie Fox, Max Bennett, Blake Aaron, Freddie Washington, Steve Reid, and Dean Grech.
Each Bash is a once-in-a-lifetime concert for both the artists and the audience. The music will never happen in exactly the same way again. The roster from previous shows is a virtual "who's who" of contemporary jazz. Check out the website for the list of past performers. Get your tickets early as this has sold out in the past.
Doors open at 3 p.m., with a special pre-Bash concert by the Saddleback Big Band kicking off a half-hour later. The Bash starts at 5 p.m.
Advance sale ticket prices begin at $45. In recognition of the recent dedication of the Saddleback College Veterans Memorial, veterans and active military personnel may purchase tickets at a $10 discount through the Saddleback College Veterans Office 949- 582-4252. Tickets are available to the public at www.KSBR.
Sax great David Sanborn performs the weekend of May 21-23 at the South Point Hotel in Las Vegas. This is the first time the artist has performed an entire weekend in Sin City.
The Robert Cray Band will be at the Red Rock Station Resort, Saturday, May 22nd.
Guitars & Saxes 2010, featuring Gerald Albright, Jeff Golub, Kim Waters, and Peter White, perform one night only at The Boulder Station Hotel in the Railhead Showroom.
Saxophonist Rocky Gordon and keyboardist Billy Nunn performed for First Friday at the Arts District in Las Vegas May 7th.
The Lake Las Vegas Jazz Series line up for May is as follows:
May 8th - Vince Priester
May 9th - Sonya Shaeffer
May 15th - Bobby C
May 22nd - Blu7
May 29th - Ghallib Ghallab
May 5, 2010. Welcome to the latest issue of Denis Poole’s Secret Garden the page that offers a personal perspective on the very best from the world of smooth jazz and classic soul. With Jaared’s brand new album Manhattan Nights already garnering critical acclaim there was added significance to his appearances with Peter White’s band at the Pizza Express Jazz Club. I caught up with Jaared as he prepared for the third of seven dates at this famed London venue and understandably the conversation ranged from his work with Peter White to how Manhattan Nights had come to fruition.
Jaared told me that he first became acquainted with White during the 2002 Oasis Awards. Regular contact by e-mail quickly led to him being co-opted into Peter’s band and since then he has performed with him often. Parallel to this Jaared has also been building an increasingly successful solo career that started out as far back as 2001 with the Marcus Johnson produced Foreward. Hang Time (which included guest spots by Peter White, Ken Navarro and Roberto Vally) followed a year later while his 2008 CD Addiction found him partnering heavily with English keyboard player Oli Silk. It marked Jaared’s debut on Trippin n Rhythm Records and he has stayed with this label for his latest project.
In fact Jaared was quick to acknowledge the beneficial effects that the label has had on Manhattan Nights. First and foremost it was Trippin n Rhythm that suggested he should utilise the production skills of the consistently excellent Michael Broening. Jaared explained that the artistic relationship he and Broening now enjoy has been based entirety on mutual respect and fierce attention to detail. Not only that, it has laid a platform for what he hopes will be many collaborations to come. Being part of the Trippin n Rhythm roster also simplified the process by which Jaared could harness the talents of featured artists such as Cindy Bradley, Jay Soto and U-Nam. He summed up the way in which Trippin n Rhythm routinely operates as “giving the artistry of music making back to the artists” and confirmed that this is something he hugely appreciates.
Another feature of Manhattan Nights is the contribution of Tower Of Power founder member Greg Adams. I asked Jaared how this came about and he told me that he and Adams had been in contact for some time and were eager for the opportunity to work together. When Adams offered to arrange the horns for the album Jaared jumped at the chance but even he was surprised when Adams came through not only with some sumptuous arrangements but also input from fellow Tower Of Power luminary Lee Thornburg and acclaimed trombone player Nick Lane. The fact this brass section adds a rich veneer to several of the tracks has meant that when Jaared takes Manhattan Nights on the road he plans to have an eight piece backing band with him. First port of call will be a CD release event in Phoenix and new dates are continuously being added.
Finally I asked Jaared what to some may well be the $64,000 question. He clearly has a great singing voice and this is born out on Manhattan Nights by his faultless rendition of the Bee Gees ‘How Deep Is Your Love’. I queried with him why he has chosen to limits his vocals to only one track per album and he explained that although it placed him a little outside his comfort zone he has been pleasantly surprised at the positive reaction his singing has received. However, because he would never want to allow the vocals to detract from his billing as a saxophonist, ‘less is likely to remain more’.
Jaared is one of the most talented performers around and throughout our conversation also proved to be one of the most interesting. Equally adept in the recording studio or on the live stage he is rapidly evolving into a ‘must see’ act.
For more on Jaared go to www.jaared.com
Do you have any comments on what you have found in this edition of the Secret Garden? If so please e-mail me on DenisPoole2000@Yahoo.com.
I don’t normally review singles, preferring a full CD project, but I found exception in three super smooth and funky singles that you can scoop up on I-Tunes by multi-instrumentalist James Colah. One single called “Ocean Tide” (actually found under The Parlett-Colah Project) glides along with a kind of bop-and-stroll feel that is both joyful, funky, and, yes, even sexy in its own way. It has a marvelous hook that stays with you. Another by the artist, “Better Days,” (performing as The James Colah Project) has that mellow mid-tempo drive with really cool guitar chops, courtesy of one Ant Law, rather reminding one of a Norman Brown or Nick Colionne groove. Bright horns, funky piano, excellent phrasing, and smart chords certainly mark this one as a keeper.
The third single, “Blissful,” (also performed by The Parlett-Colah Project) is loaded with soulful funk and attitude. Highlighted by colorful sax work by Mike Parlett, it had no problem capturing my attention.
For those unfamiliar with Colah, he hails from and still lives in London, England. He’s an accomplished keyboard player, producer, arranger, composer and session man. In a three decade career to date, he has worked as a musical director or session man with a range of high profile international artists which include : Edwin Starr, Ballet Rambert Dance Company, Virgin Records, Sheena Easton, Haysi Fantaysi, Pendragon and EMI. He now steps forward with these singles, and I certainly hope and look forward to a full CD project from him. His talent and insight are clearly evident.
More information on Colah can be found at www.jazznet247.com/jamescolah.
Written by The Jazz Gypsy
Rarely, does lightening strike twice in the same place except in this case. Simone, Nina Simone's daughter, has the same thunderbolt presence and talent as her legendary mother, Dr. Nina Simone. This interview exposes a bit of that.
Anyone within a 200-mile radius of LA or San Diego should plan to see Simone as she makes a rare Southern California appearance. The power and presence she brings to the stage is explosive!
Simone's Facebook page: http://bit.ly/doZcVu
Tuesday, May 11, 2010, 8:00 pm
Catalina Bar & Grill
6725 Sunset Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90028
Thursday, May 13, 2010, 7:30 pm
1337 India Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Interview with Simone, Nina Simone’s daughter, Tuesday, May 4, 2010.
The Jazz Gypsy: You were born Lisa Celeste Stroud, on September 12, 1962, right?
Simone: Yes. That's correct.
The Jazz Gypsy: Where did you spend the majority of your childhood?
Simone: Ah, childhood would be from birth to 18 years old. Well, I'd say the first eight years of my life, were the most stable and that was in Mt. Vernon, NY. After that, it kind of just popped around like popcorn. Believe it or not, the stability, now that I reflect, had to do with the fact that my parents were together. And, once my parents separated, that's when we became gypsies and nomads, my mother used to call us.
The Jazz Gypsy: Tell me about your time in Troy, North Carolina.
Do you mean Tyron? My mother was born in Tyron, North Carolina. The only dealings I've had with Tryon, North Carolina of late has been in connection with the Nina Simone project. That is the project that has been responsible for my mother's statue. The statue is of my mother's head and shoulders on my body and it was dedicated on February 21st of this year which would have been my mothers' 77th birthday. There was a huge dedication with a letter from former President Clinton, a Congressional record was read, the Mayor came out and many people came out. They had doves flying all around and we officially opened up what is now known as the Nina Simone Plaza. So there's a statue there where I can go and sit on mommy's lap and I can talk to her and she doesn't interrupt me and I can spend some time with my mom. And, the town where she was born has finally, officially, heralded "their girl", if you will, and she's come home.
The Jazz Gypsy: Excellent. And, I also read that there are ashes of your mom in the chest of the statue.
Simone: Yes, my mom was cremated and I have those ashes and I donated a portion of them. They asked me if I would [donate some of the ashes], and I didn't know what their plans were. But, it didn't matter to me because what they were doing was so wonderful. I found out later on, I have pictures of the heart being constructed and the ashes being placed in the bronze heart which was put inside of the statue. So, yes, there are various pieces of mom inside the statue.
The Jazz Gypsy: That is so special. And, I also saw the picture on your Facebook page (http://bit.ly/doZcVu) where there was a ray of light shining on you at the statue.
Simone: Isn't that something?
The Jazz Gypsy: That was awesome.
Simone: I didn't even know.....we were just taking a picture and the sculptor, Zenos, he calls himself my grandfather now...[laughter]...it was just amazing that that statue was put together by him. His heart, soul and expertise went into it and my daughter was actually present when I modeled. And, they took the actual form of my body from which they poured the bronze, or however they do it, and she took the video, and she's actually narrating. She was actually eight at the time. So I was really happy that she has been such an integral part of such a historical process. So that when I die, she doesn't have to pick from other people's gossip or whatever. She can know from her own experience.
The Jazz Gypsy: Right. And, that reminds me of a picture I saw of you, in I believe Jet, of your birth with your mom and I believe your dad and then there was a picture of you and your daughter.
Simone: Yes, the legacy continues in many forms.
The Jazz Gypsy: And so, did you spend time in North Carolina as a child?
Simone: I did. Well, other than going to visit my grandma, who lived in a town called Forest City, I went to third grade in Rutherfordton. There are three towns in that part of North Carolina that are connected, Rutherfordton, then there's Spindale and then there's Forest City. And, I went to third grade, when I was eight years old, in Rutherford Elementary and then when I was ten years old I went to fifth grade, elementary school, in Spindale. And, then I also spent a lot of time with my grandma in Forest City.
The Jazz Gypsy: I read that that's where you learned to cook fried chicken, learned the 23rd psalm there, and was singing in the choir.
Simone: Yes, yes, that was with my grandma. I spent a lot of time with her. She taught me the 23rd psalm when I was ten. And I remember us being on our knees as she taught it to me and I have in turn taught it to me kids.
The Jazz Gypsy: Both your grandparents are Reverends, right. And, your son, is he a Reverend as well?
Simone: Yes, my eldest. That's his hope is to be an Evangelist. He's still searching for who he is, but his heart, is definitely one where he wants to spread the word of God. So I wish him all the best. It's something, being the granddaughter of a minister and now being the mother of a minister. But, my views on religion are not as conventional as my grandparents and as a mother of a minister, I make sure to make those views very clear to him that God loves us all. So don't be saying that we're the only ones going to heaven. [laughter]
The Jazz Gypsy: I'm right there with you. [laughter] So, in terms of your son finding his career. I want to talk to you about you finding your career. So, I want to walk down memory lane for a bit because your background is vary varied in terms of your aspiration to become a lawyer, then your working as an Engineering Assistant in the US Air Force, then as a background singer for European artists, touring with a Latin superstar, your Broadway career [Aida, RENT, Les Miserables, Jesus Christ Superstar] then your singing in Liquid Soul.
Simone: [laughter] Boy, I sure have taken a circuitous route, haven't I? [laughter] Yes, let’s go down that path.
The Jazz Gypsy: So when did you start singing around the house and then when did you start singing as Simone?
Simone: Well, I've always sung around the house, even like my daughter. She sings and dances. It's just a part of who she is. It was just a part of who I was. And there was no thought involved in it. Also I realize, since my mom passed away, I've been dissecting my life in one form or fashion and that by osmosis, when your mom, when that's what she does for a living, the house is full of music, and so sometimes just by breathing the same air, you wind up just doing a lot of those things.
When I was spending a lot of time with my god sisters, which are Malcolm X's daughters, I call myself the seventh sister, because he had six daughters, they used to always ask me to sing one of mom's songs, "Turning Point", which I might end up having to record. Have you heard it, "The Turning Point"?
The Jazz Gypsy: No, I haven't.
Simone: You know mommies background and her first love is classical music.
And, so the music for this song is classical, with cello and a lot of strings and it's like a lullaby. [Simone begins to sing]
See the little brown girl She's as old as me She looks just like chocolate Oh mummy can't you see
[Simone stops singing and resumes conversation]
And it's basically a little white girl talking to her mother about this little brown girl that goes to school with her who she really likes. And, she's telling her mom about all these different situations when they swing on the swings, and how this little boy tries to mess with this little brown girl and the white girl punched him in the chin... and the whole nine.
And when she gets done she says [Simone begins to sing again]
Mom, can she come over To play dolls with me? We could have such fun mum
[Simone stops singing and resumes conversation]
Then there's a pause, and she's like "Well why not?" And, in the end she goes, "Oh, I see".
And that's when racism and that's when separation is implanted into a child's mind. It's called "Turning Point". That's the song they always asked me to sing and we were all kids. I don't think that they realized the impact the song was. They just liked it, you know.
Jazz Gypsy: For the reading audience, I have listed the full lyrics to "The Turning Point":
See the little brown girl
She's as old as me
She looks just like chocolate
Oh mummy can't you see
We are both in first grade
She sits next to me
I took care of her mum
When she skinned her knee
She sang a song so pretty
On the Jungle Gym
When Jimmy tried to hurt her
I punched him in the chin
Mom, can she come over
To play dolls with me?
We could have such fun mum
Oh mum what'd you say
Why not? oh why not?
Oh. . . I. . . see. . .
Simone: So, when I was in high school I was going to church a lot, and I became part of a gospel group called The Gospel Cameras. And, without any real musical training, I was the one who was responsible for giving everyone their parts. I've always been able to hear harmonies, and to hear voices in my head. I did that for a while and then I delved a little bit in dinner theater. Then I was asked by this group of men, actually a band, that's when Angela Bowfil was out there, and they asked me to be a singer. My auntie was raising me at the time and I was living in Hudson, NY. And, my aunt was like, "Oh, no, you're not going to live that life". So, I didn't think anymore about it. And, when my college plans to go to the University fell through, I think as an act of desperation, I just reached out to the next best thing and the Air Force came up. I still have not been able to remember being given options. But obviously, I was really desperate because I took it.
When I went in, of course I didn't know at the time, engineering assistant wasn't called an engineering assistant and they were originally going to put me in administration. And I was like I don't want to be inside all day long. So the recruiter said "How about being a site developer". And, I was like, "Well, what's that?" And, he gave me a brief description and I said "Well, what ever". [laughter] So, I went into the military and ended up doing a job that consisted of all the things I hated in school, math and I was like "Oh, man". Then later on, the job title was changed from Site Developer to Engineering Assistant.
So while I was in the military, I was reunited with music, via a glass of wine. A glass of wine has played a pivotal role in my life two times. the first time was when I went to that Bistro, which I’m sure you already know you already know about in Frankfurt Germany. You know that story, right?
The Jazz Gypsy: Yes.
Simone: So the man playing the piano in the Bistro was Black. And, the way he tapped his foot up and down, he didn't just use the top of his foot or the bottom of his foot, he did his whole leg and it reminded me of church in the South. And, for some reason, I was inspired to get up and sing with him and I don't even remember what song I sang.
All is know is that my girlfriend, I found out later, she is a sister, an African American, that owned a hair salon in Frankfurt Germany, I found out later, that she was so impressed, she was raving to everybody in the salon about me and then a lady named Joan Crawford called me up. I was like, "Who are you and how did you get my number and why are you calling me?" She said, "Well, I need a background singer." And, when I realized what she needed me to do, I said, "Well, I can shake my behind and I can harmonize and I can make a little extra money. So, I said why not." And, then after a while, I wanted to do my own gigs and I took one and the rest is history.
It was during that time, right before the Gulf War, I was about 27/28 and I was really not "feeling" the military and I couldn't imagine doing it for twenty years. I wasn't going to make rank very fast because I was in a job that I hated. So in order to make rank in the Air Force you have to test. And I wasn't going to do well on the test because I had no interest in what I was doing. So, I was waiting, just trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grow up. And, music came back into my life. I remember a fire being lit in my belly and me saying, "Wow, maybe this is what I ought to consider". And, so I did. Much to my parents horror. [laughter]
I picked the name L'Simone. Of course, in Europe, that wasn't such a big thing because when you add an apostrophe to your name it's no big thing. And when I did Jesus Christ Superstar, there were so many Lisa's in the cast that the Director looked at me and said, "You know what, we've decided to call you Simone, is that okay with you?" And, I said, "Yeah". And, I've been using the name ever since. So it was while I was in Germany, when I was 28, that I decided to take up singing as a profession and I haven't looked back since.
The Jazz Gypsy: So, you have two solo albums?
Simone: No, one. The first one is a Town Hall. The Town Hall Cd you're talking about is just about five songs that I put together to sell at the concert. My debut CD, in every since of the word is "Simone on Simone".
The Jazz Gypsy: So, Simone Superstar was the compilation of the five songs?
Simone: No. Simone Superstar was just me proclaiming and affirming to the universe, which is what I talk about all the time. "Simone on Simone" really should be Simone Superstar, [laughter]. That's the CD I always thought I would put out first. I just never got to it. [more laughter]
The Jazz Gypsy: So, Simone on Simone, I absolutely love it. Do you have a favorite on there?
Simone: They are all my favorites. That's why it's such a good CD. They are all my favorites. Lets, see. "Don't You Pay Them No Mind" has been a song out of all of them that has been a favorite Nina Simone song of mine since I was a little girl. "How Long Must I Wander", became a favorite of mine when I was nine. I used to sing around the house "I Wish I Knew What It Was Like to Be Free" when I was four or five years old. So each song has it's own history, it has it's own story, it has it's own place in my journey. And, of course, "Music for Lovers", my God, that was the first time I ever shared the stage with my mom. So, they're all favorites.
The Jazz Gypsy: Okay. Tell me about "Child In Me".
Simone: What do you want to know?
The Jazz Gypsy: That one has, it seems like it has a lot of emotion.
Simone: I wrote that in a hotel room. A lot of time when I'm performing... have you ever seen me perform?
The Jazz Gypsy: No, I haven't, [laughter], but my friends have.
The Jazz Gypsy: They saw you in Atlanta, last year.
Simone: Oh, they saw me when I was with Sing The Truth. Yeah, that was part of a review. But they haven't seen my show? Okay, then this [referring to her upcoming show at Catalina Bar & Grill in LA on May 11, 2010] will be a real treat because I tell stories. I haven't even been singing "Child In Me" lately. Actually, I don't know why. But, when I do, I talk to the audience about it's history. I wrote that song when I was in Madrid, Spain. I actually have the notebook that I wrote it in. It was in, if I'm not mistaken, 1994, and, I decided to take every tear that I never cried in my childhood and place it on the paper.
The Jazz Gypsy: Oh, wow.
Simone: And, when I wrote it, and the tears would start to come, I refused to cry. I wanted to write a song to my mother that was honest but not blaming her. But letting her know how I was feeling and that I loved her. It is my love song to her. It is very autobiographical and every line in it is autobiographical.
When I look back, it's very hard being a woman of color now, much less back in the time when my mother was doing her thing. Being a revolutionary, a wife, a mother, a musical prodigy, a genius, and so forth, and so on, you know, “Mommy, you done good". You can't keep all those plates spinning at the same time, very well.
So, this was my love some to her and the first time she heard it, she just burst into tears because she always carried so many regrets in her heart with regards to me. So I wanted her to know, "It was okay and that I love you and there's noting to forgive, I love you". It became her favorite song. I'm happy to say that when she used to travel with the music that she loved, Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley, Miriam Makeba and of course Nina, I was amongst that group. She would play my music as well.
The Jazz Gypsy: Oh wow, that's excellent. Does your daughter travel with you?
Simone: As often as she can when she's not in school. She shared the stage with me. I don't know if you got a chance to see it but when she was nine, which was a couple of years ago, she graced the Lincoln Center stage with me and headed up a 19-piece big band. She sings "Love Me Or Leave Me" with me and she's a Diva in Training. I teach her about the art of performing straight from the stage. Unlike my mother who did not want me to experience the pitfalls, and all of the bear traps that she did....I thought who better than me is there to teach my daughter. So, she's right at my hip and I tell you what, the third generation is going to be a hum dinger! [hearty laughter] She's got it all the way through her.
The Jazz Gypsy: So, it just keeps getting better.
Simone: It just keeps getting better, and you know what, I dare say that she's going to eclipse both my mother and myself. Because my mother had a very, very difficult childhood and she excelled in spite of that...she carried around many things that she never had a chance to resolve. I also had a difficult childhood. My daughter will have had the best of childhoods of anyone that I know and so she's not going to have the demons and things to overcome like my mom and I have had to do. Hence, her ability to be able to fly and to not look back and to experience the joy that awaits...when you're raised properly, and you know that you're worthy, stand in your own truth, and you're confident of who you are and you know that you have people that love you walking on either side of you, you can't go wrong. And, that's exactly how her life is right now.
The Jazz Gypsy: That's excellent. There are a couple of other performances I'd like for you to talk about; the first show you did with your mom in 1999, what was that like for you? You nailed that.
Simone: [laughter] Oh, God, I had to keep from crying my eyes out in front of 7,000 people. I was so full. My daughter was six weeks old and she flew with me from Chicago, which is where I had her, to Ireland. The first flight of her life ever was international from Chicago to Dublin, Ireland. And, my mom just wanted me to join her, to join her on the tour. She didn't ask me if I wanted to perform with her, until I was there. And she had actually had been very difficult the night before the performance, to be honest with you. The night before the performance... because she would get very nervous and her way of expressing that anxiety was by becoming angry and bossy and she could just really hurt your feelings. And, her way of apologizing the day of the show was to ask me if I wanted to go down center stage.
The Jazz Gypsy: Oh my goodness.
Simone: And, the reason why she had asked me that was because she had come to see me, this was July 24, 1999, my daughter was born on May 25th, my mom came to Chicago May 28th to visit me after I had given birth to Rayanna. During that visit, we went to the studio that I worked out of and I had my own Nina Simone request line. And, she turned around and said to the people, "You better not be recording me". [laughter] And, she proceeded to play everything I asked her to play and she said "I'll play and you sing". So, one of the songs I asked her to play was "Music for Lovers". I sang it and she loved it so much she asked me to sing it again. And when I got to Ireland, she said, "Do you want to sing it down on center stage" and I said, "Yeah". So, that's what we did and we never rehearsed it. In the limousine ride there's a picture of my mom and me and the baby, that's my daughter.
The Jazz Gypsy: Yes, yes. I've seen that picture.
Simone: In the car, that’s the limousine ride, she asked me what key I wanted to sing in and I sang four words and my mom said "Okay, I got it". My mother had perfect pitch.
She called me on stage and we sang two songs together. We sang "Conversations" and we sang "Music For Lovers". And, when I went down center stage during rehearsal, I actually burst into tears. During the actual performance it was just beautiful. When I turned around at the end, the applause was deafening. Have you ever seen my mom perform?
The Jazz Gypsy: No, just on You Tube. [laughter]
Simone: My mother never lost her...when she performed, you had to be quiet. There was a certain reverence and respect that was an integral part of her classical training. So when I finished singing, I turned around and raised my hands in the air and I ran over to her and I hugged her really hard. And you know she always had that stern face and she just started grinning, in spite of herself. [laughter] And, it was at the end, that she said, "That's my baby" and that's what you hear at the end.
The Jazz Gypsy: Oh, that is an amazing story. Tell me about 2003 when you performed at her memorial.
Simone: Well, there was her funeral in France, April 21, 2003, where I sang "Precious Lord" in the church.
The Jazz Gypsy: That's one of my favorite songs. My grandfather used to sing that.
Simone: Oh, yes. That's one of those hymns, spirituals. Nobody sings them anymore but I do. And then there was the memorial that I put together at Abysinnia Baptist Church, on, wow, was that the day, July 24, oh my goodness, I dare say it might have been the same day, July 24, 2003. At Abysinnia Baptist Church where I eulogized her. So which memorial are you speaking of?
The Jazz Gypsy: I didn't know there were two.
Simone: So, which memorial were you speaking of?
The Jazz Gypsy: Abyssinia.
Simone: I eulogized her and when I got up on stage I actually sang "Music for Lovers". And, I remember Revered Calvin Butts, when I was putting everything together I found out that my mother briefly had become a member of that church, at some point in her life, which I didn't know. And the people told me that Rev. Butts usually eulogizes and I said "He won't be doing that in this case, that's my mom and I will be doing the eulogizing". It's interesting because I didn't know what I was going to say and I was kind of torn. I still have a lot of my journal entries. I've kept journals for many years and I have writings from that time. And, my husband was like, "Do you want to write anything down"? And, I'm a Virgo, I'm pretty anal and I was like "No, no, no".
Then, three days before the memorial, it hit me. While the world loved my mother and knew her as Nina Simone, and/or Eunice Waymon, sister/brother/cousin/friend/artist, I'm the only person on earth that calls her mommy. And, it was from that point of view that I was able to put together what I was going to say. I had no notes whatsoever, but that was my starting point, and that's from where I pulled.
The Jazz Gypsy: Then in 2006, you did a Tribute to your mom at Town Hall in NY.
Simone: That's the CD I thought you were referring to when you said Simone Superstar. Again, that's where I put a little CD together with five songs to actually have at that event and it just said in loving memory of my mother. I found out some history about that show. Do you know any history before I go into it?
The Jazz Gypsy: No, I don't.
Simone: Okay, I when I was putting that show together, I was asked by Larry Zucker who brings the talent to Town Hall, he met me for lunch one day, and he told me that he was actually at my moms performance in 1959, and that he had had a light bulb went off in his head about me recreating that concert with my mothers' band to which I heartily agreed. While we were putting the show together, I found out some interesting facts about that concert. My mother performed at Town Hall on September 12, 1959. I actually have an oil painting of her at the piano on that day. She hadn't met my father yet. Yet, I was born three years later, September 12, 1962. My mother died April 21, 2003, and I was asked to perform April 21, 2006, three years later. So it’s almost as if a circle had been completed. So, three years after her performance, I was born. And three years after she died I graced the same stage.
The Jazz Gypsy: Oh, my goodness.
Simone: There have been a lot of spiritual things that have taken place in my life since my mom passed which have taught me many lesson on this world and just how much we're missing. I had a seat reserved for her and I performed with her musicians from that time, many of whom are uncles and god fathers who remember the day my mother and father first laid eyes on each other. My brother, who had at the time a security company, did the security and it was a huge family affair. Now this was my half brother, I'm my moms only child. So those are some of the key elements to that concert.
I did "Sinner Man", "Black Is The Color" [of My True Loves Hair], "I Don't want Him, You Can Have Him", which I will be doing there in LA. And, at the end of the concert it really made me feel so good to hear people start yelling from the audience, "Do Mississippi God dam", do "Do What You Gotta Do", do "To Love Somebody", do "22nd Century", and I had an answer for each and every person. But it was very heartwarming to me because my mother was my mother and there will be no other, but to find that people who have loved her, of all ages all races, would find me good enough, for lack of a better way of putting it, to recreate those songs, for them to yell out their requests, that was like yeah I'm doing the right thing.
The Jazz Gypsy: You have such incredible stories I know there's going to be a book coming out soon.
Simone: A lot of people have mentioned that to me and I'm ready. There are a lot of stories. That's what my concert is all about. It's all about this is you life right now. When I wanted to become a singer, I asked God to enable me to inspire love and positively through the example of my own life from the stage and this is when I first realized that singing is what I wanted to do. I just didn't know that I would have to walk though an ocean of fire to do it. But it is what I'm doing and I'm still here and I’m inspiring those very things in the lives that I touch at this point.
The Jazz Gypsy: Ocean of fire. That sounds like a good song title. [laughter]
Simone: That might be the name of the book. [hearty laughter] Definitely.
The Jazz Gypsy: How different is it when you're singing your moms songs yourself and when you're singing with other people like when you did "Four Women" with Liz Wright, Diane Reeves, Patty Ausin and Angelique Kido?
Simone: "Four Women" is not a song I choose to do in my own show. I've also done it with Tracy Chapman, Odetta and Liz Wright. I just finished doing it with Patti Austin, Diane Reeves and Liz Wright.
For me, I think each person embodies the particular character that we're singing and because I have such a theater background it's not just about singing a lyric. It's also about the visual, about being committed, it’s about living the role and I just think it very apropos that there are four different women with four different hues and styles and everything singing these parts. Mommy did it great on her own but we've just expounded upon something that she created.
The Jazz Gypsy: When I looked at the different videos, I do think you were the most theatrical.
Simone: Thank you, thank you. What can I say, I am drama queen. [laughter]
The Jazz Gypsy: What are you currently working on?
Simone: [with a lot of excitement] My new project! We captured lightening in a bottle and I could not be more thrilled. It's taken a while to get the direction It's one's thing to do a project that's full of songs which have already been tried and proven. It's quite another, if you go to my blog, look up Simone Kelly on Facebook. I've blogged from nearly every country I've traveled to in the past two years, Africa, China, Poland, Spain, I talk about saying the truth, I talk about the various embodiment of all of us, encapsulating a different facet of my mothers' personality. But, I also talk about, the fact that this past winter, I layed back in the cut for a few months and just took care of our daughter and made sure she was okay. Waiting for, I didn't know what I was waiting for, but I knew I was waiting. And, on November 19th, the sign came from the heavens. And, I go on to explain that whole process of how nothing we do is wasted. And, my point is that I did a demo three years ago that we never did anything with. But, the person that I did it with was thinking about me and wanted to know what I was doing. He called my management and said, "I think as a producer she would work very well in Miami. Do you think she would mind going to Miami?" And, he didn't know I'm living there now. So, I went to this producers studio, and we’ve already cut three songs and another [unintelligible words] is waiting for me when I get back. And we're doing, the music is, well, do you remember "The Propellerheads" in Shirley Bassey?
The Jazz Gypsy: No.
Simone: [Simone sings] "I do just a little bit of history repeating"
The Jazz Gypsy: Yes, I remember now.
Simone: It's very classical, it's very now, it's what a lot of artists are trying to do but haven't quite been able to pull off just right. And the producer is like, "Your lineage, your background your experience, and your instrument...you can do this". And, I'm telling you, I'm having the time of my life. And everybody who has heard what I have done so far they're just like, this is amazing. And, I'm very encouraged that this is me coming out as me. I've paid tribute to my mom, paid homage to the one who walked before me, now I get a chance to get to myself. And, I think this is a wonderful way to present myself.
The Jazz Gypsy: When is this CD coming out?
Simone: Right now, we are gearing for the Fall. That means I have a whole lot of singing to do over the summer. [laughter] So, let's hope that I'm able to hit that mark but definitely this year, by God's grace.
The Jazz Gypsy: Tell me where to find that information again on Facebook.
Simone: Simone Kelly, there's about five of six pages of Simone Kelly's but you know how I look, so and I'm amongst them, K-E-L-L-Y. Simone Kelly. And, I'm not on Facebook as much as other people because it's all I can do to hit my marks in my everyday life, much less be on computer for two to three hours contacting a thousand people. But, I do try to blog every month and especially when I'm on the road. I've posted pictures from Africa and Spain. I've got pictures of Diane Reeves and Liz Wright and Joy and all of us together and my kid and I. The whole nine yards.
The Jazz Gypsy: Okay, I've saved my last three big questions for now.
The Jazz Gypsy: You mentioned that wine has played a role in some of your major decisions, so I want to know, red or white?
Simone: Red. [laughter] 'Cause red is my favorite color. [laughter]
The Jazz Gypsy: And, did you ever learn to make those buttermilk biscuits with mayonnaise?
Simone: [emphatically] Yes! Yes! I forgot, I went to Tryon and I was taught how to make buttermilk biscuits. I remember the ingredients. I just can't remember [the measurements]. You go to the South and they don't do nothing with no measurements. They just do it all just by feel. That's how I was taught. So, yes, I did. [hearty laughter]
The Jazz Gypsy: And, do you really travel with cast iron pans?
Simone: Well, when I was doing theater and I used to travel with trunks, well, yes, because everywhere we went, we had corporate housing and I was able to cook. And, it was like legend amongst the cast and company that Simone has her cast iron pans and she's going to fry some chicken and make some cornbread after the show. Heck, yeah. And, when I go back out on tour, and I'm able to be somewhere, I realize, see in Miami where I live, they have an electrical stove and it eats up my cast iron pans so I'm sorry to say that I have not been able to cook with them. But, my home here in Pennsylvania, I have a gas top range and that's the only thing that's on there.
The Jazz Gypsy: Well, thank you very much. Is there anything you would like to add.
Simone: Yes, there is. When my mother died she died alone. She died not having any idea how much she was loved by the world. So, she had a fear, that if her voice ever gave out on her, that she didn't know what she would do, in order to survive. Since she has passed away, my mother is more famous than she ever has been. It doesn't mean anything to her now because she has already crossed over. So my message to our world is, "Please, let our great ones know how much they are loved while they are here and, that their sacrifices and choices that they've made, and the suffering that they've endured is not in vain".
The Jazz Gypsy: That's a good message.
Simone: Thank you.
The Jazz Gypsy: Well thank you Simone.