Nina Simone, unapologetically commanding in every word she sang and note she played on the piano, would surely have foreseen, nay, demanded, her present-day artistic deification, nearly two decades after her death. Forthrightly declaiming her personal, sexual, and political mandates in song, Simone is heard in outstanding form throughout “The Montreux Years,” a collection of performances, from 1968 through 1990, culled from the prestigious Swiss jazz festival. In candid renditions of signature tunes (“Four Women,” “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free”; her now ubiquitous “Feeling Good” is regrettably absent) and apposite choices (Janis Ian’s “Stars”), Simone’s fierce commitment to direct communication is always palpable. If more lustre can possibly be added to Simone’s legacy, this set provides it.
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