Nina Simone at Nucleus Nuance

Los Angeles Times
Leonard Feather 31 January 1987

In a short-notice change of schedule, the Hollywood club Nucleus Nuance brought in Nina Simone to headline Thursday, relegating the Snooky Young-Bob Cooper Sextet to the role of a warm-up act.

Simone is a woman of many moods, some of them so somber that she could easily turn "Happy Days Are Here Again" into an elegy.

She was in a singularly outgoing frame of mind, and 15 minutes into her act was inviting the audience to sing along with her shuffle-rhythm rendition of an ancient Eddie Cantor ditty, "My Baby Just Cares for Me."

A far cry from "Porgy" and from the protest songs of the past, but it was not all on this trite level. At one point she left the piano and, accompanied by the intense drumming of Bruno Carr, applied her vocal power and visual body English to "Be My Husband."

Simone is a self-contradiction: As a pianist, she reveals her classical training with florid runs, yet her deep, rich vocal timbre shows relatively little evidence of orthodox study. Neither as pianist nor as singer can she be categorized as a jazz performer; primarily she is an evoker of moods, often verging on melodrama. After reminiscing about her years spent in Africa and in Switzerland, she sang a song about her daughter, with cryptic overtones.

Asking (in French) whether anyone in the house spoke French, and receiving virtually no reaction, she went right ahead and sang "Ne Me Quitte Pas."

To conclude what had been for the most part a spellbinding show, she again asked her listeners to join in, this time for a Trinidad carnival song.

There was none of the often-vented anger, yet what we heard and saw, as this sometimes solemn woman in the gold lame blouse went through her motions, was quintessentially Simone. When she smiled, even when she said, "Thank you for coming, you sweet things," it a1819025523the most complex and fascinating characters in show business.

Nucleus Nuance is at 7267 Melrose Ave.