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Arts Festival Review: Sing The Truth

Arts Festival Review: Sing The Truth

Review by Nick van Dijk

Sing The Truth: Nina Simone Remembered
Michael Fowler Centre
6 March

The truth came through in waves of song, from the hearts and voices of four excellent ladies and their slightly Vegas backing group. The musical director and guitarist introduced each vocalist with benign charm as each singer sang two songs and returned again for two more. Classic songs such as Feelin’ Good, I Put A Spell on You and Sinnerman were delivered with panache and dignity.

Lizz Wright came out and was mesmerizing; her voice naturally rich with an obvious deep musical connection, her tone somewhat reminiscent of both Tracy Chapman and Cassandra Wilson – and she has a delightful centred presence. Her return with an a Capella song was very well received by the audience.

Simone (the daughter) was both alluring and well-versed in show business, but this impression fell away as she dug deeper and revealed her obvious love for her mother’s music and a sweet technique. There were three members of the band who had played with her mother, and this added to the close atmosphere helping her to perform to her best.

While Patti Austin has probably had better nights, she warmed the audience with sing-along participation and came back strongly with ‘My Baby Just Cares For Me’.

The best singer of the night was undoubtedly Diana Reeves. She is a true diva and a great jazz singer with an astonishing control and delivery. This was evident in the final song where (of course) all sang together.

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The Musical Director-guitarist, who also played elegant vibes and passable harmonica, was the clearest soloist, while the doddery old percussionist serenely swaggered around the beat with great humour. Bassist Lonnie Plaxico, who was last here with Cassandra Wilson, did the background job smoothly and occasionally spiritedly. The drummer looked like he would shake off the drum stool he was so stiff – but somehow groovy.

The truth was sung, and as this was the last concert of their tour the truth was bittersweet, with Simone shedding tears in memory of her mother in front of a standing ovation.

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Press release: Four Superstar Jazz Women Salute Nina Simone
Arts Festival website: Sing the Truth
Scoop Full Coverage: Arts Festival 2010

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