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One of Nina Simone’s finest recordings, this Colpix LP features the unique singer/pianist performing classic versions of “Black Is the Color of My True Love’s Hair,” “The Other Woman,” and “Wild Is the Wind.” With supportive work from bassist Jimmy Bond and drummer Albert “Tootie” Heath, she also sounds fine on a few instrumentals. “Summertime” is performed twice, once as a vocal. From the start of her career, Nina Simone carved out her own unique niche, meshing together her classical piano technique with folk singing, civil rights protest lyrics and jazz. All of those elements are in evidence on this highly recommended set.

Nina Simone has the rare ability of really being able to dig into material and bring out unexpected meaning in familiar lyrics. On “Just in Time” from this CD reissue, she gives one the impression that if she had not been found “Just in Time,” she would have committed suicide. During “He Was Too Good to Me,” Simone sounds absolutely stunned about the end of a love affair. “Brown Baby” is both hopeful and defiant in its call for freedom, while “Zungo” is an African work song. Also from her 1961 trio performance at the Village Gate, Simone performs the overly serious “If He Changed My Name,” the good-time gospel piece “Children Go Where I Send You,” a regretful rendition of “House of the Rising Sun,” and an unpredictable instrumental version of “Bye Bye Blackbird.” Nina Simone, who was always in a category by herself, is heard throughout in her early prime.

-Scott Yanow, allmusic.com

DOWNLOAD:
NINA SIMONE AT TOWN HALL (1959)
NINA SIMONE AT THE VILLAGE GATE (1962)
320kbps

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