Little Girl Blue
There are voices that enact a specific emotion in the listener that is completely in sync with the intention of the performer or composer. In the world of jazz, some of the iconic women who have epitomized this ability have included Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Nina Simone. Particularly in the instance of Simone (1933 - 2003), from the moment you hear her fingers caressing the piano, or her voice wrapping itself around a lyric, one is immediately transported to another land; an autumnal landscape scattered with vistas in which to rejuvenate before continuing on a musical journey.
Verse Music Group has released Simone's 1958 record, "Little Girl Blue" on CD for the first time, and for the uninitiated, it provides a sparklingly clear picture of this multi-talented, independent spirit, who found her home in the world of jazz and blues after a background in her North Carolina church and the Julliard School of Music in Manhattan.
For those who have been intoxicated by the deep, resonating voice, one of the most pleasant surprises are the many tunes on this album that feature Simone's technically proficient piano mastery. From the opening riffs of her version of "Mood Indigo," through her interpolation of "Good King Wenceslas" into the title track, and her passionate navigation of the instrumental, "Good Bait," the listener can very easily forget that they are immersed in a recording by one of the most sultry of vocalists, and instead think they are enjoying a classical piano album.
Backed by Al Heath on drums and Jimmy Bond on bass, the eleven-song set also includes two travels into the musical theater world: Gershwin's "I Loves You Porgy" and the Rodgers and Hammerstein standard, "You'll Never Walk Alone."
The style was always original, and the voice always recognizable, and this set is a perfect sample for the unfamiliar listener while reminding the more versed of the snaking prowess that was Nina Simone.
"Little Girl Blue"
CD and digital formats
Verse Music Group