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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!

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Tuesday, August 10, 2021

BMG artist: Nina Simone - Little Girl Blue - New Release Review

 I just had the opportunity to review the newest release (August 13, 2021), Little Girl Blue, by Nina Simone and it's terrific! This is a classic album which was originally recorded in 1957 by the then 24 year old Simone on her first recording outing. This release has been remastered and engineered by Michael Graves and Cheryl Pawelski and the vinyl (180g blue or black) cut by engineer, Kevin Gray. Opening with Ellington's, Mood Indigo and opens with Simone showing that she really knows her way around the keyboard having attended Julliard. In this hot jazz improvization, she really swings in with potent piano lines and great offset vocals, joined by Jimmy Bond on bass and Albert "Tootie" Heath on drums. Excellent opener. Don't Smoke In Bed, a Willard Robinson composition, finds Simone singing the blues with only a bed of piano as a light accompaniment for the most part and highly tense at the end of her phrases. Masterful. Another terrific blues, He Needs Me, shows Simone really knows how to work the track vocally and just the right amount of accompaniment to make the vocals glisten. You don't often hear the purity of feeling as expressed in this track. Moving into full throttle swing, Simone pours on the heat on Donaldson's Love Me Of Leave Me. Her vocal phrasing is really poised and her piano work blends classical lines with full on jazz. Just enough bass by Bond and a tight rhythm by Heath makes this a top track on the release. Rogers and Hammerstein classic, You'll Never Walk Alone gets a formally classical type arrangement tht will leave you sitting back thinking, this is a blues/jazz singer? She really is exceptional. Gershwin's I Love You, Porgy is a precious gem among the diamonds here. This track has been covered by most of the greats, most notably Miles Davis but this is no second class cover. Simone's expressive vocals and her dynamic piano work is stunning. Wrapping the release is Simone original, Central Park Blues with Bond walking the bass and Heath on brushes. A straight up blues number positions Simone on piano at lead but giving Bond a fine opportunity to front on solo as well. Her lead lines are stark and dynamic yet quiet and sensitive. This is an excellent closer for one of the classics of our times. 

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