This elegantly packaged, four-CD boxed set pays handsome tribute to the singer/ pianist, who died April 21 in France.
This elegantly packaged, four-CD boxed set pays handsome tribute to the singer/ pianist, who died April 21 in France. Four Women brings together seven albums—recorded between 1964 and 1966 for Philips Records—that lifted the artist's commercial profile and expanded her artistic ambitions. Simone's bold eclecticism is revealed here: jazz, pop, blues, folk, R&B, and gospel are all seamlessly essayed across 75 tracks. Several career-making numbers are included, including "I Put a Spell on You," "Trouble in Mind," "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out," and the affecting title cut. Even when the arrangements sound dated or overblown, Simone's nerve and intransigence shines through. The thrill of her sonorous voice and the luster of her interpretive skills remain undimmed. This classy homage is rounded out by a smart Ashley Kahn essay. Complementing this collection is Nina Simone—Live at Ronnie Scott's (Music Video Distributors, due June 3); this DVD spotlights a Nov. 17, 1985, performance at jazz club Ronnie Scott's London.—CM