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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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Showing posts with label Nina Simone. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nina Simone. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

BMG/Bethlehem Records: Nina Simone - Mood Indigo: The Complete Bethlehem Singles - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Mood Indigo: The Complete Bethlehem Singles, by Nina Simone and it's terrific. Opening with Porgy (I Loves You, Porgy), Simone on lead vocal and piano sets a standard that to today is still regarded as gold for jazz style. Backed by Jimmy Bond on bass and Albert "Tootie" Heath on drums, this is an excellent opener. Love Me Or Leave Me leaves no question of where contemporary vocalists such as Diana Krall's inspiration originates. This is the blueprint for bop jazz vocals. Very nice. Somber ballad, He Needs Me, not only shows the purity of Simone's vocals but the crystal clear classical style piano work that is her trademark. Showing her classical piano chops on the intro to Latin based instrumental, African Mailman, Simone really gets the rhythm moving on this one. Letting out the lead on title track, Mood Indigo, Simone really swings. Her vocal phrasing, over Bond's bass line is so excellent it gives you goose bumps... and dig her piano riffs! Good Bait is a great track with a solid walking bass line, steady drums and nicely executed piano melody. Strong. Wrapping this release is Simone's interpretation of My Baby Just Cares For Me with solid bass, brushes and piano on the up beat as rhythm. Her playful piano lead and stylized vocals on this track make for a great closer for a pretty incredible set.


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Friday, January 19, 2018

Nina Simone's first recordings, 'Mood Indigo: The Complete Bethlehem Sessions,' coming Feb. 9 from BMG.








REDISCOVER THE REMARKABLE FIRST RECORDINGS OF
ROCK & ROLL HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE NINA SIMONE ON
MOOD INDIGO: THE COMPLETE BETHLEHEM SESSIONS
2018 marks the 60th anniversary of these recordings made
 for Simone’s landmark debut album Little Girl Blue.

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Nina Simone was only 25 years old in 1958 when she entered Beltone Studios in midtown Manhattan for a one-day recording session for her debut album, Little Girl Blue, on Bethlehem Records. The 14 songs she recorded that day reveal just how well developed Simone’s sound — her powerhouse vocals, her classically-trained piano-playing, her inventive, genre-blind arrangements, and her dynamic personality — already was. Bethlehem, a small and financially faltering jazz label, picked 11 tracks for Little Girl Blue. This unheralded debut yielded Simone’s biggest hit, a cover of the Gershwins’ “Porgy (I Loves You, Porgy),” as well as her last one, “My Baby Just Cares for Me,” which charted in 1987 after being used in a TV commercial. 
By the time “Porgy (I Loves You, Porgy)” was moving up the charts, Simone had moved on to larger and financially stronger Colpix Records. Wanting to capitalize on Simone’s hit, Bethlehem made the most of their Simone material. On Nina Simone and Her Friends, they placed “Porgy’ and the three songs left off of Little Girl Lost (“He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” “African Mailman,” and “For All We Know”) with songs by her label-mates Chris Connor and Carmen McRae. Between 1959-62, Bethlehem also put out six singles utilizing all of their Simone tracks. To commemorate the 60th anniversary of these recordings, BMG/Bethlehem now has compiled these singles together as Mood Indigo: The Complete Bethlehem Sessions, due out on February 9, 2019
The 14-track CD version of Mood Indigo follows the chronology of Bethlehem’s single releases, starting with the first A-side “Porgy (I Loves You, Porgy)” and ending with the last A-side, “My Baby Just Cares Me.” The collection contains an alternative take of “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” as well as seven single-only tracks that previously have only been available on the original 45s. The LP version, pressed in standard black and limited edition blue vinyl, holds 12 tracks plus a bonus 7" replica of Simone’s first single, “Porgy (I Loves You, Porgy)” backed with “Love Me or Leave Me.” 
The Bethlehem Sessions displays a young Nina Simone confidently putting her distinctive stamp on the set of jazz numbers and Broadway tunes. She prefaces Rodgers & Hart’s “Little Girl Blue” with a bit of “Good King Wenceslas" and drops a Bach-like interlude into the hot jazz “Love Me or Leave Me.” Although this was her first album, Simone had written in her contract that she could chose the album’s musical direction, and she chose songs she was familiar with from playing in clubs. The session featured Simone performing either solo on piano or backed by bassist Jimmy Bond and drummer Al “Tootie” Heath, two then-young jazz players who went on to lengthy careers. 
Mood Indigo’s liner notes include a new interview with Heath, who recalls the one-day session with Simone. “She sat at the piano and sang, and that was that … Nina was already Nina by then. She had her sound together — It was quite different. Her piano playing was something I had never heard before because it wasn’t typical jazz or it wasn’t typical classical. It was Nina Simone, it was her stuff.” Heath’s insightful interview is just part of the enlightening liner notes. Penned by Ashley Kahn, the author of the books Kind of Blue and A Love Supreme, the liner notes provide an excellent history on the making of Little Girl Lost, which was filled with its complications, much like the Simone itself.
This year not only marks the 60th anniversary of the Bethlehem Sessions, but it will also see Nina Simone being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, on April 14. Simone, who would have turned 85 on February 21st, has never disappeared from the public’s eye since she passed away in 2003. Recent years saw the release of two documentaries about her: The Amazing Nina Simone and What Happened, Miss Simone, the latter a 2016 Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary Feature. What Happened, Miss Simone also is the name of Alan Light’s well-received 2016 biography. Simone’s music continues to appear on TV and movie soundtracks (her tune "Take Care of Business” was used in the closing credits of 2015’s The Man From U.N.C.L.E. film). Musicians, moreover, have long cited Simone as an influence. The song “Plain Gold Ring,” which is on Mood Indigo, has been covered by White Magic, Nick Cave, and Kimbra, while Simone’s version of “Little Girl Lost” inspired renditions by the likes of Janis Joplin, Diana Ross, and Diana Krall. 
Simone’s career was as eclectic as her music. After leaving Bethlehem, she recorded for the Colpix, Phillips, and RCA labels, releasing more than 25 albums from 1959-1974. She continued to cover standards and pop songs, from Screaming Jay Hawkins’ “I Put a Spell on You” to the Bee Gees’ “To Love Somebody”; from the traditional “Children, Go Where I Send Thee” to the original version of “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.” Starting in the mid-’60s, her music turned more political, highlighted by such memorable tunes as “Sinnerman,” “To Be Young, Gifted, and Black,” “Strange Fruit,” "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free," and “Mississippi Goddam.” The last 30 years of her life, Simone led a more peripatetic expatriate existence. She continued to perform live (especially overseas) but recorded only sporadically. 
Just as Simone travelled the world, she also traveled down many musical roads. Mood Indigo, however, captures Simone at an incandescent moment — when her sound held both a complexity of style and a purity of youth.
LP TRACKLIST
SIDE ONE: 
1 Little Girl Blue 
2 He Needs Me 
3 Don’t Smoke In Bed 
4 African Mailman 
5 Mood Indigo 
6 Central Park Blues

SIDE TWO 
7 For All We Know 
8 Good Bait 
9 You’ll Never Walk Alone 
10 Plain Gold Ring 
11 He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands (Alternate Take) 
12 My Baby Just Cares For Me

Also includes 7" single featuring “Porgy (I Loves You, Porgy)”b/w “Love Me Or Leave Me” 

Pre-Order Links:
Barnes & Noble Exclusive Blue Vinyl 

CD & Standard Black Vinyl

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood - Nina Simone


Eunice Kathleen Waymon (February 21, 1933 – April 21, 2003), better known by her stage name Nina Simone (/ˈniːnə sɨˈmoʊn/), was an American singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger, and civil rights activist widely associated with jazz music. Simone aspired to become a classical pianist while working in a broad range of styles including classical, jazz, blues, folk, R&B, gospel, and pop.

Born the sixth child of a preacher's family in North Carolina, Simone aspired to be a concert pianist as a child. Her musical path changed direction after she was denied a scholarship to the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, despite a well-received audition. Simone was later told by someone working at Curtis that she was rejected because she was black. She then began playing in a small club in Philadelphia to fund her continuing musical education to become a classical pianist and was required to sing as well. She was approached for a recording by Bethlehem Records, and her rendition of "I Loves You Porgy" became a smash hit in the United States in 1958. Over the length of her career, Simone recorded more than 40 albums, mostly between 1958 — when she made her debut with Little Girl Blue — and 1974.

Her musical style arose from a fusion of gospel and pop songs with classical music, in particular with influences from her first inspiration, Johann Sebastian Bach, and accompanied with her expressive jazz-like singing in her characteristic low tenor. She injected as much of her classical background into her music as possible to give it more depth and quality, as she felt that pop music was inferior to classical. Her intuitive grasp on the audience-performer relationship was gained from a unique background of playing piano accompaniment for church revivals and sermons regularly from the early age of six years.

After 20 years of performing, she became involved in the civil rights movement and the direction of her life shifted once again. Simone's music was highly influential in the fight for equal rights in the US
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