Nina Simone / Remixed and Re-imagined

Asking any Nina Simone devotee to “re-imagine” the uncompromising context of her music is very ambitious. Especially if that means acknowledging versions of her artistry which she can neither defend nor dismiss. But damn, we miss Nina horribly. So, yes, we are willing to receive yet another reincarnation of our beloved high priestess of soul...with a suspect ear and a suspiciously squinted eye, that is. Remixed & Re-imagined presents some of Nina Simone's most definitive works from her RCA recording period (1967-1974), reinvented by some of contemporary dance and electronic music's best producers, including Chris Coco, DJ Logic, Francois K., Tony Humprhies, Mocean Worker, Coldcut, Nickodemus, Groovefinder, Organica, and more. With such a plethora of talents on deck, there are of course, a variety of Nina Simone translations to choose from. Some of which may make you cringe, and some that may make you...well, dance. The most authoritative example of how a Nina Simone remix should be done comes courtesy of Jazzeem, who wickedly remixes Simone’s version of Ike and Tina Turner’s “Funkier than a Mosquito’s Tweeter” (from It Is Finished, 1974). Without loosing that necessary touch of psychedelic funk, Jazzeem is able to tap into the song’s original feeling long enough to suspend the rhythm and highlight Simone’s stirring voice albeit a brief trip-hop section turned hypersonic drumming. Aside from a couple of other cuts, namely Francois K’s empowering “Here Comes the Sun” remix and DJ Walley’s intoxicating rendition of “My Man’s Gone Now”, Remixed proves to be less appropriate for a first-time encounter with Nina Simone, the provocative activist, and more like a study in what dance producers can do with her strong and often intimidating voice. As such, a true Nina Simone fan will be justifiably conflicted. Relax. Nina was progressive. And lucky for us all, she was also beyond category. There is a truth in her music that cannot be derailed by mere synthetic transformations of beats. The edge and piercing importance of what Nina expresses will always compensate. Right, wrong or indifferent, Remixed rekindles a loving memory of Nina Simone and pays homage to her music and life, which deeply impacted and inspired the global dance community.

{ exclusive feature}
by Erika Evans
{The Liberator Magazine 6.1 #17, 2007}

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