Last month, Netflix released the original documentary “What Happened, Miss Simone?” to deserved acclaim. It chronicles the life and legend of vocal jazz icon Nina Simone, whose remarkable career spanned parts of five decades prior to her 2003 death at age 70.
In celebration of the film comes first-rate companion album “Nina Revisited: A Tribute to Nina Simone.” The 16-track platter pays homage to Simone with reworked renditions of some of her most popular tunes by artists including Ms. Lauryn Hill, Mary J. Blige, Common, Usher, Jazmine Sullivan, Gregory Porter and Lalah Hathaway. It’s a fascinating collection of tunes that surely has Simone smiling down from above.
Hill is the featured player here, and for good reason. She seems to have absorbed Simone’s very essence in performing five of the 16 songs. She soars highest on standouts. “Feeling Good,” “Ne Me Quitte Pas,” “Black Is the Color of My True Love’s Hair” and “Wild Is the Wind.” Lisa Simone does her late mother proud with “My Mama Could Sing (Intro)” and “I Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl.”
Among the other entries, pay close attention to Sullivan’s take on “Baltimore,” Usher’s rendition of “My Baby Just Cares for Me,” Blige’s “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” Alice Smith’s version of “I Put a Spell on You” and Simone’s own set-closing rendition of “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free.” Highly recommended. (Jeffrey Sisk)