I was in a restaurant recently with amazing music. Ella+Oscar, Nat King Cole, Bublé, Sinatra, Ray Charles, Tony Bennett. One amazing version of a classic after the next. Tom in The Gallery in Westport deserves a shoutout for this alone.
There was an older guy sitting down from us who knew them all, and wasn’t shy about singing along. But it was so hard not to – one great song after another – isn’t that what they are there for?
But then Nina Simone’s My Baby Just Cares for Me came on, and he brought it to a new level altogether. He sang the piano solo. Note for note.
And I can do that, but that’s because I learned it years ago as part of my study of the instrument. Maybe this guy did too – who knows – but he’s not the first person I have heard sing this piano solo so accurately.
We all have a favourite solo – be it Mark Knopfler on Sultans of Swing, Ray Manzarek on Riders on The Storm, Clarence Clemons on Born to Run, Brian May on Bohemian Rhapsody, or whatever you’re having yourself. And usually one of the main reasons we like it it because we can sing it. No different to a great melody – a great solo must capture emotion, rise and fall, and make melodic sense.
And Nina does all that. It’s one of my favourites. So good. So melodic. I don’t know if Nina improvised it or wrote it but her classical background is clear in it. Have a listen.
Here’s the track. Piano solo starts at 1:12. Soak it up!