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Kim Nalley: She Put a Spell On Me: Kim Sings Nina ***

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KIM NALLEY: She Put a Spell On Me: Kim Sings Nina
(Courtesy of SFStation.com)

Recorded live during Kim Nalley's five-night tribute to the late Nina Simone at San Francisco's legendary Jazz at Pearl's, She Put a Spell On Me celebrates the catalogue of one brilliant artist while introducing the world to a new one. To her credit, Nalley doesn't mimic Simone's style so much as she captures the rousing spirit of the era in which the high priestess of soul performed and, in doing so, makes each number her own. It's a neat trick, especially considering how many popular takes we've heard on chestnuts like "I Put a Spell On You" and "House of the Rising Sun."

Backed by the supremely capable quartet of pianist Tammy Hall, bassist Michael Zisman, drummer Kent Bryson and trumpeter Allen Smith, Nalley shows off her soaring, sultry vocals as she powers through an appropriately eclectic set of jazz, blues, showtunes and folk. There is a seductive smoothness to Nalley's sound that should never be confused with slickness, making She Put a Spell On Me equally accessible to Simone aficionados and jazz neophytes alike. Invariably, her bold voice and impressive range will inspire comparisons to the likes of Dinah Washington and Ella Fitzgerald, but it's a tribute to Nalley that she distinguishes herself as a unique talent, even on a collection of such familiar covers.

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