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Nina Simone - Little Girl Blue (1958)

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Little Girl Blue (1958)

Nina Simone

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Little Girl Blue, released in 1957, was Nina Simone's first recording, originally issued on the Bethlehem label. Backed by bassist Jimmy Bond and Albert "Tootie" Heath, it showcases her ballad voice as one of mystery and sensuality and showcases her uptempo jazz style with authority and an enigmatic down-home feel that is nonetheless elegant. The album also introduced a fine jazz pianist. Simone was a solid improviser who never strayed far from the blues. Check the opener, her reading of Duke Ellington's "Mood Indigo," which finger-pops and swings while keeping the phrasing deep-blue. It is contrasted immediately with one of the -- if not the -- definitive reads of Willard Robison's steamy leave-your-lover ballad "Don't Smoke in Bed." The title track, written by Rodgers & Hart, features "Good King Wenceslas" as a classical prelude to one of the most beautiful pop ballads ever written. It is followed immediately by the funky swing in "Love Me or Leave Me" with a smoking little piano solo in the bridge where Bach meets Horace Silver and Bobby Timmons. It's also interesting to note that while this was her first recording, the record's grooves evidence an artist who arrives fully formed; many of the traits Simone displayed throughout her career as not only a vocalist and pianist but as an arranger are put on first notice here. "My Baby Just Cares for Me" has a stride shuffle that is extrapolated on in the piano break. Her instrumental and improvising skills are put to good use on Tadd Dameron's "Good Bait," which is transformed into something classical from its original bebop intent. "You'll Never Walk Alone" feels more like some regal gospel song than the Rodgers & Hammerstein show tune it was. Of course, one of Simone's signature tunes was her version of "I Loves You, Porgy," which appears here for the first time and was released as a single. Her own "Central Park Blues" is one of the finest jazz tunes here, and it is followed with yet another side of Simone's diversity in her beautiful take on the folk-gospel tune "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands," with quiet and determined dignity and drama. Another of her instrumentals compositions, "African Mailman," struts proud with deep Afro-Caribbean roots and rhythms.
© Thom Jurek /TiVo

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Little Girl Blue (1958)

Nina Simone

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Mood Indigo (Duke Ellington)

1
Mood Indigo
00:04:00

Nina Simone, Performer - Albert "Tootie" Heath, Performer - Jimmy Bond, Performer - Duke Ellington, Composer - Barney Bigard, Composer - Irving Mills, Lyricist - Nina Simone, Composer

2013 Bethlehem Records 2013 Bethlehem Records

Don't Smoke In Bed (Nina Simone)

2
Don't Smoke in Bed
00:03:10

Nina Simone, Performer - Albert "Tootie" Heath, Performer - Jimmy Bond, Performer - Willard Robison, Composer - Nina Simone, Composer

2013 Bethlehem Records 2013 Bethlehem Records

He Needs Me (Nina Simone)

3
He Needs Me
00:02:27

Nina Simone, Performer - Albert "Tootie" Heath, Performer - Jimmy Bond, Performer - Arthur Hamilton, Composer - Nina Simone, Composer

2013 Bethlehem Records 2013 Bethlehem Records

Jumbo (Richard Rodgers)

4
Jumbo: Little Girl Blue
00:04:17

Nina Simone, Performer - Albert "Tootie" Heath, Performer - Jimmy Bond, Performer - Lorenz Hart, Lyricist - Richard Rodgers, Composer - Nina Simone, Composer

2013 Bethlehem Records 2013 Bethlehem Records

Whoopee! (Walter Donaldson)

5
Love Me or Leave Me
00:03:20

Nina Simone, Performer - Albert "Tootie" Heath, Performer - Jimmy Bond, Performer - Gus Kahn, Lyricist - Walter Donaldson, Composer - Nina Simone, Composer

2013 Bethlehem Records 2013 Bethlehem Records

6
My Baby Just Cares for Me
00:03:36

Nina Simone, Performer - Albert "Tootie" Heath, Performer - Jimmy Bond, Performer - Gus Kahn, Lyricist - Walter Donaldson, Composer - Nina Simone, Composer

2013 Bethlehem Records 2013 Bethlehem Records

Good Bait (Tadd Dameron)

7
Good Bait
00:05:28

Nina Simone, Performer - Albert "Tootie" Heath, Performer - Jimmy Bond, Performer - Tadd Dameron, Composer - Nina Simone, Composer

2013 Bethlehem Records 2013 Bethlehem Records

Plain Gold Ring (Nina Simone)

8
Plain Gold Ring
00:03:51

Nina Simone, Performer - Albert "Tootie" Heath, Performer - Jimmy Bond, Performer - George Stone, Composer - Nina Simone, Composer

2013 Bethlehem Records 2013 Bethlehem Records

Carousel (Richard Rodgers)

9
Carousel: You'll Never Walk Alone
00:03:45

Nina Simone, Performer - Albert "Tootie" Heath, Performer - Jimmy Bond, Performer - Richard Rodgers, Composer - Oscar Hammerstein II, Lyricist - Nina Simone, Composer

2013 Bethlehem Records 2013 Bethlehem Records

Porgy and Bess (George Gershwin)

10
Porgy and Bess: I loves you Porgy
00:04:09

Nina Simone, Performer - Albert "Tootie" Heath, Performer - Jimmy Bond, Performer - Heyward DuBose, Lyricist - Ira Gershwin, Lyricist - George Gershwin, Composer - Nina Simone, Composer

2013 Bethlehem Records 2013 Bethlehem Records

Central Park (Nina Simone)

11
Central Park
00:06:47

Nina Simone, Performer - Albert "Tootie" Heath, Performer - Jimmy Bond, Performer - Nina Simone, Composer

2013 Bethlehem Records 2013 Bethlehem Records

Album Description

Little Girl Blue, released in 1957, was Nina Simone's first recording, originally issued on the Bethlehem label. Backed by bassist Jimmy Bond and Albert "Tootie" Heath, it showcases her ballad voice as one of mystery and sensuality and showcases her uptempo jazz style with authority and an enigmatic down-home feel that is nonetheless elegant. The album also introduced a fine jazz pianist. Simone was a solid improviser who never strayed far from the blues. Check the opener, her reading of Duke Ellington's "Mood Indigo," which finger-pops and swings while keeping the phrasing deep-blue. It is contrasted immediately with one of the -- if not the -- definitive reads of Willard Robison's steamy leave-your-lover ballad "Don't Smoke in Bed." The title track, written by Rodgers & Hart, features "Good King Wenceslas" as a classical prelude to one of the most beautiful pop ballads ever written. It is followed immediately by the funky swing in "Love Me or Leave Me" with a smoking little piano solo in the bridge where Bach meets Horace Silver and Bobby Timmons. It's also interesting to note that while this was her first recording, the record's grooves evidence an artist who arrives fully formed; many of the traits Simone displayed throughout her career as not only a vocalist and pianist but as an arranger are put on first notice here. "My Baby Just Cares for Me" has a stride shuffle that is extrapolated on in the piano break. Her instrumental and improvising skills are put to good use on Tadd Dameron's "Good Bait," which is transformed into something classical from its original bebop intent. "You'll Never Walk Alone" feels more like some regal gospel song than the Rodgers & Hammerstein show tune it was. Of course, one of Simone's signature tunes was her version of "I Loves You, Porgy," which appears here for the first time and was released as a single. Her own "Central Park Blues" is one of the finest jazz tunes here, and it is followed with yet another side of Simone's diversity in her beautiful take on the folk-gospel tune "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands," with quiet and determined dignity and drama. Another of her instrumentals compositions, "African Mailman," struts proud with deep Afro-Caribbean roots and rhythms.
© Thom Jurek /TiVo

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