On Saturday, Denver’s The Gift of Jazz streams in conjunction with Mighty Fine Studio Productions “A Celebration of Nina Simone.”  The 7 p.m. event features singer Sheryl Renee with a trio made up of pianist Tenia Nelson, bassist Juli Royston and drummer Clare Church.

In early 1964, the dynamic Ms. Simone (born Eunice Kathleen Wayman) performed at Carnegie Hall and wrapped things up on stage with her song “Mississippi Goddam.” That song, first performed at the Village Gate,  became a key and controversial musical element in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. It begins with the refrain, “Alabama’s got me so upset, Tennessee’s made me lose my rest and everybody’s knows Mississippi Goddam.”

For those who don’t recall where the lyrics go, here’s a sample: “Hound dogs on my trail/School children sitting in jail/Black cat crosses my path/I think every day’s gonna be my last.” Be my last in a country full of lies.

That was more than 56-years ago and ‘Mississippi Goddam” still rings true today, except its message can be applied to many more parts of the country along with Mississippi. There are those who continue to utter the nonsense that ‘it’s a communist plot” when “all,” in Simone’s words, “I want is equality.”

The song created its own reaction. Boxes of promotional copies of the “Goddam” single sent to radio station were returned, with the records within broken in half. Simone’s career and her sense of self suffered, causing her a decade after singing at Carnegie Hall to leave America to spend her time in France and Africa. “Goddam” indeed. For details on the Simone celebration, check out The Gift of Jazz website.

Also on Saturday, Dazzle has a live event featuring trombonist/sea shells player/and sometime vocalist Stafford Hunter and his Latin Jazz Exploration with Anisha Rush on saxophone. That event, with Hunter (who moved to Denver and DU’s Lamont School of Music from New York) kicks off at 7 p.m. Check the Dazzle website for details concerning attendance. Dazzle also has pianist Purnell Steen and his group live on Thursday at 7 p.m., while October begins on the 1st at Nocturne with pianist Dawn Clement and her trio doing Monk.

Norman Provizer
Jazz Notes 9/23/2020

Homepage: Sheryl Renee
This page top: Tenia Nelson, bottom: Stafford Hunter

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