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Barb Jungr - Just Like a Woman (hymn to Nina) - Jazzwise


23 April 2008
Jazzwise
Ken Hunt
3 Stars

Nowadays fewer singers do it than before, maybe because it's not simple (certainly not as simple as some people might make it out to be). We're speaking about thematically linked song programmes, as here. The small print explains, "all songs previously recorded by Nina Simone" though I admit to Simone singing The Pusher never having lodged in my cranium. Like Scarlett O' (Seeboldt) in Germany, Barb Jungr has developed the knack of creating cohesive and coherent song cycles. "Just Like a Woman" has Nina Simone's repertoire as its backbone but it is Jungr and the team that add new sinew, muscle and grey matter to what could have been easily turned into a posy of Nina nosegays.

For many Simone's piebald-varied repertoire will be the stuff of association - love affairs, flings, lives and deaths. Maybe that's why the absence of such relatively obscure, yet, for me, core material such as Randy Newman's Baltimore or Judy Collins' My Father isn't an issue (though My Father would have slotted in beautifully). Jungr's phrasing and ability to slide across end rhymes in to the next line are the stuff of revelation. Likewise, what music director Jenny Carr's figurative baton achieves. Danny Thompson's skeletal bass on Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood could be being played on, to summon an image from European folklore, wailing strings woven from human hair. The snare drum sound on Black is the Colour and the swirling Al Kooper-style organ on Break Down And Let It All Out are splendid. The only track here that leaves me out in the cold rain and snow is the jaunty over-interpretation of Feeling Good. Simone's arrangement was a slow fuse explosion; this very different approach sounds like one more whisky with a Prozac chaser on a charabanc sing-along. That quibble asisde "Just Like a Woman" works both as an artistic statement and an artistic unity.


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