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Little Girl Blue
Original discography
 
 

Bethlehem BCP 6028 (1959 US)

This is Nina's first original and official album, aka Jazz as Played in an Exclusive Side Street Club, recorded in New York, last months of 1957 (perhaps December). The cover photo was taken at Central Park by Chuck Stewart (an African American who was Dinah Washington personal photographer) during an interval of the recording session. The stone bridge in the background is the Gapstow Bridge. And to Central Park is dedicated one of the album song, "Central Park Blues", an instrumental composed by Nina itself.

Most sources are wrong about release date. All Music Guide, Brun Lambert's Nina biography indicates 1957. Nina's autobiography, Break Down by Sylvia Hampton indicates 1958.

The album was first scheduled September 1958 and was finally released in February, 1959. In fact the first album's notice is on Billboard December 1958 (New Release LP) and the first review is this (Pop Talent Albums):

Nina Simone is a new talent who bears watching. She can sing a song - a swinger or a ballad - in a warm, affecting style that is all her own. Her fine piano has a touch of classical feeling thrown in with the jazz-pop style. She sells the title song and "Don't Smoke in Bed" with sparkle and feeling. If exposed, the set could easily become a strong seller. A good new talent here.
-Billboard 16 March 1959

Listen to this album on YouTube.

See all releases of this album on this site.
See all releases of this album on RYM.
Tracks sorted by number (sort by session or by title)
 1 [4:00] Mood Indigo   Duke Ellington, Irving Mills, Barney Bigard

 2 [3:09] Don't Smoke in Bed   Willard Robison

 3 [2:26] He Needs Me   Arthur Hamilton

 4 [4:12] Little Girl Blue   Lorenz Hart, Richard Rodgers

 5 [3:18] Love Me or Leave Me   Walter Donaldson, Gus Kahn

 6 [3:33] My Baby Just Cares for Me   Walter Donaldson, Gus Kahn

 7 [3:25] Good Bait   Count Basie, Tadd Dameron

 8 [3:50] Plain Gold Ring   Earl S. Burroughs

 9 [3:58] You'll Never Walk Alone   Oscar Hammerstein II, Richard Rodgers

 10 [4:03] I Loves You Porgy   George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin, DuBose Heyward

 11 [3:05] Central Park Blues   Nina Simone

Liner Notes by Joseph Muranyi
A rare commodity in jazz is a new singer who has something different to say and sufficient technique and voice with wich to express it. There are plenty of musical singers who vocalize well and have an individual style but who never cross that thin and hard-to-define line that separates a good "pop" style from one that is jazz.

Nina Simone's first few notes will immediately tell you into which camp she falls. It's always pleasant to hear a good voice and hers, with its strong individuality, assuredly commands your attention while the aural reward for listening is bountiful. Nina's musical philosophy regarding her singing is to-the-point enough to be stated in one telling statement -- "You got to get to people". That she does with a vibrant and husky contralto that tonally sounds like a blend of an unlikely combination of Marian Anderson and Ma Rainey.

Nina is throughly schooled in music and she plays the piano, vocalises, arranges and composes. Her talents are well represented in this set as she plays all of the piano, does all the singing, has arrange all of the songs and has composed the rhythmic "Central Park Blues". Her accompaniment, besides her own piano, consists of the sensitive assistance of Jimmy Bond, bass and Al Heath, drums (brother of Percy). Her approach to a performance stems from her above-expressed feeling on the subject; she sets the mood with her piano, quite often at extended length and then she enters, in the same mood, with her voice. A good example of this is her version of "Little Girl Blue". Her interpolation of the Christmas carol, "Good King Wenceslas" as a counter-melody has aroused admiration wherever she has played it.

Nina Simone was born 25 years ago -- the exact date is February 21, 1933 -- in the town of Tryon, North Carolina. She was one of eight children; four boys, four girls who all sing or play an instrument; perhaps this steams from the fact that her parents are also quite musical. At four she started to play piano, by four and a half she was singing. Soon the local church rang with the voices of a girl trio composed of the Simone [sic] girls (including Nina). In this period she especially liked and was much impressed by Marian Anderson, the great contralto. By the time she reached high school she was playing jazz piano heavely tinged with the the folk blues of the south. When she graduated at 17, she left home for Philadelphia, Pa. Here she continued her piano studies and made a living by teaching piano and accompanying vocal students of the popular idiom. Two years of serious piano studies were taken at this time at New York's Juilliard School of Music. After four years of accompanying others she had the yen to sing and give vent to her long subdued vocal talents. Soon she made her first vocal appearance, singing from the keyboard, at the Mid-Town Club in Atlantic City. By this time she had heard and enjoyed (and perhaps been influenced by) such stylists as Louis Armstrong, Kitty White, Sarah Vaughn, Louis Jordan and Billie Holiday.

When it comes to instrumental jazz, she likes the modern sounds of groups like Chico Hamilton. In her words -- "I guess I like the progressive sounds 'cause my training was classical."

To sum up Nina Simone's style is difficult but a listing of what makes her unique is perhaps easier. Her unusual combination of classical training, the ecstatic and serious quality of negro church music which has influenced her vocal delivery and the "funky" and modern schools of jazz with wich she has come into close contact all make for a novel and often inspiring jazz singer and instrumentalist.