Simple Things?

Music Review

12 Feb 2014
Mina Agossi
Simple Things?
Candid

Mina Agossi is a jazz vocalist but in many ways she should be considered an instrumentalist as her voice is often used in the fashion of a jazz instrument. Agossi, who was born in Benin in 1972 but has lived in France for most of her life, specialises in turning the simple into the avant garde in a mesmerizing fashion. Her vocal performance has a silk-to-shout range which takes the listener from somewhere near Billy Holiday to the vicinity of madness incarnate with a sound not unlike a trumpet. Simple Things? her fifth album came out in 2008 and in keeping with the earliest albums Agossi is accompanied by a small and slightly unusual band that includes percussion, drums, bass, keyboards and a rapper.
Agossi takes you on a musical journey through funk, African, gentle, jazzy, weird, expressive and colourful styles. She has mastered the art of producing unique and appealing (both intellectually and musically) versions of famous and less than famous hits. On this album she offers an outlandish but nevertheless pleasing version of Pink Floyd's Money as well as one of the best versions ever of Wardell Grey's Twisted, the song made famous by Annie Ross (with Lambert and Hendricks) in the late 50s and performed by Joni Mitchell and countless others over the years. Agossi has as strong an affinity to modern jazz as she has to Jimi Hendrix, whose songs frequently appear in her work. On this album she offers a slow steamy rendition of Hendrix’s 1983 (A Merman I Should Turn To Be) from the Electric Ladyland album, there is also a nod to Nina Simone, Billy Holiday and Dinah Washington in a version of Feeling Good. Agossi's unique vocal abilities are accompanied on this album by Eric Jacot (bass) Ichiro Onoe (drums) Manolo Badrena (percussion) Fred Dupont (Mini Moog) and Racos (MC). Simple Things can equally be described as jazzy, funky, bizarre and avant garde. The recording is warm with slow'ish bass and gets about 6 out of 10 but is acceptably clear and never sounds compressed. Agossi’s performance is as pleasing as she is unusual, a must hear artist who combines tremendous ability, intellect, energy and charm. Very highly recommended.

Reuben Klein