Volume 9, Issue 1 University of Houston
‘Reimagined’ jazz album gets an electronic touch
‘Nina Simone: Remixed & Reimagine’ becomes a success where other revisions have failed
by RUTH RODRIGUEZ
Remix compilations usually fail to come close to musical legends’ original work.
Producer Scott Schlachter’s 2006 release, Nina Simone: Remixed & Reimagined, offers the recreated works of renowned singer, songwriter, arranger and composer Nina Simone, an artist who spent years immersed in various music forms, including jazz, folk and pop.
Simone often used other artists’ material as a platform to effortlessly master each piece. Her sultry vocals were a dominant element in each piece. It’s hard to imagine remix artists successfully recreating Simone’s songs; she rarely faltered with sensual vocal performances such as “Lilac Wine” and “Four Women.”
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Throughout most of her pieces, Simone often stressed the importance of silence as a musical element with the occasional piano, string and brass section accompaniment.
Remixed & Reimagined fills in Simone’s silent breaks and lends listeners a more dance-worthy set of tunes. The 13 tracks are instilled with the haste of contemporary synth-enthused dance, grooves and breaks.
The tracks, reinvented by contemporary dance music electronic producers Francóis K., Tony Humprhies, Mocean Worker, Chris Coco and a host of others, give the lounge-oriented jazz more than just an electronic touch while remaining true to the original tone of Simone’s vocals.
Creators of the album played it safe by attempting to recreate the pieces that were already Simone’s renditions of other artists work, such as George Harrison’s “Here Comes the Sun” and The Five Stairsteps’ “O-o-oh Child.”
Remixed and Reimagined initiates the recreation of Simone’s work with “I Can’t See Nobody,” an original oldie-but-goodie with high-pitched back up singers and thumping tubas. The electronically enhanced piece is laden with a synth-driven bass line that complements Simone’s passionate vocals.
"Funkier Than a Mosquito's Tweeter," Jazzeem's remix, showcases Simone’s raw vocals mixed with traces of catchy and fast-paced funk tunes.
"Ain't Got No / I Got Life," Groovefinder’s remix, maintains the feel of the original upbeat and brass-heavy piece.
Francóis K.’s nine-minute rendition of “Here Comes the Sun” was a bit disheartening, to say the least. It sounded like a never-ending psychedelic acid trip with spiraling, droning, bass rhythms. Given the choice, listeners would probably opt for Harrison’s version.
"O-o-oh Child" reveals an equally inspiring and upbeat remix with prominent orchestral strings and a steady underlying groove.
DJ Wally’s “My Man’s Gone Now” had the least conspicuous enhancements. The song’s circular progression from steady piano accompaniment and strong trumpet solos to edgy synthesized rhythms aren’t overbearing.
This wasn’t the case in Madison Park Vs. Lenny B.’s remix of “The Look of Love,” which is drenched in fast-paced techno melodies.
For the most part, the album executes a graceful fusion of Simone’s timeless vocals with the dubbing of contemporary yet soulful dance rhythms.
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