It was Simone’s idea to take the great songs of different generations and put all together in what could be considered a level playing field. «I love to sing the great jazz standards,» the 20-something Austrian native tells me, «but, great as they are, I don’t want to sing them exclusively.» Thus she mixes it up–going seamlessly from the music of Prince and Motown to that of the Gershwins and Rodgers & Hart. She varies between the old and new, which is entirely logical considering that virtually all of them are considerably older than she is. She also includes music from both Broadway and Nashville–also a logical choice considering that New York and Tennessee are roughly equidistant from Vienna.
Simone takes an evocative country-folk song associated with Alison Kraus, and, with her stunning voice and the combined musicality of herself and co-producer/pianist John di Martino, makes it into something even more special. «I was driving from one show to another in the States, when I heard it on the car radio.» she reports, «I couldn’t get all the details, but I eventually figured out what the song was. Before I could find the sheet music, I wrote out the chords myself.» It’s a beautifully sung and even haunting performance–in more ways than one.
The new CD also includes three excellent original songs, my favorite of which is «Didn’t You Say.» «It’s about these men that promise you all kinds of things, and then in the end, they don’t deliver anything.» She tells me it’s inspired by real relationships, and I tell her she’s too young to be so cynical. However, the Count Basie-style beat provided by the combination of di Martino and ace rhythm guitarist helps negate any possible ill will, and «Didn’t You Say» turns out to be a real romper after all.