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6 Degrees Entertainment

Title - Little Girl Blue (2021, Stereo)
Artist - Nina Simone

For those unaware, Little Girl Blue (also known as Jazz As Played in an Exclusive Side Street Club) is the debut album by Hall of Famer Nina Simone.

It was originally released by Bethlehem Records in February 1959 and at the time, Simone was in her mid-20s and still aspiring to be a classical concert pianist.

The album includes the classic tracks “My Baby Just Cares For Me,” “Mood Indigo,” as well as “I Loves You, Porgy,” which was her first Top 20 hit (#18 / #2 US R&B).

Featuring a brand new stereo mix by four-time Grammy winner Michael Graves, Little Girl Blue [2021 Stereo] will also be pressed on 180-Gram audiophile vinyl and includes a new essay by author of Liner Notes For The Revolution, Daphne A. Brooks.

1. “Mood Indigo”
2. “Don’t Smoke In Bed”
3. “He Needs Me”
4. “Little Girl Blue”
5. “Love Me Or Leave Me”
6. “My Baby Just Cares For Me”
7. “Good Bait”
8. “Plain Gold Ring”
9. “You’ll Never Walk Alone”
10. “I Loves You, Porgy”
11. “Central Park Blues”

Backed by bassist Jimmy Bond and Albert “Tootie” Heath, Little Girl Blue showcases Simone’s ballad voice as one of mystery and sensuality whilst at the same time her enigmatic up tempo jazz styling brings an elegant down-home feel to the finished product.

Oh, and lest we forget that the album also introduced us to a mighty fine jazz pianist for Simone was a solid improviser who never strayed far from the blues.

On the opener, her reading of Duke Ellington’s “Mood Indigo,” which finger-pops and swings while keeping the phrasing always in line and on time, that is then seamlessly contrasted immediately thereafter with one of the definitive reads of Willard Robison’s steamy leave-your-lover ballads, the sultry “Don’t Smoke In Bed.”

The aching “He Needs Me” is then backed by the title track, written by Rodgers & Hart, and which also features Good King Wenceslas as a classical prelude to one of the most beautiful pop ballads ever written, “Little Girl Blue.”

The funky swing of “Love Me Or Leave Me” with a smoking little piano solo in the bridge where Bach meets Horace Silver and Bobby Timmons is, most definitely for me, one of the highlights of this album and that is itself followed by Simone’s strident vocal allurement found veined within a heartwarming “My Baby Just Cares For Me.”

Simone’s instrumental and improvising skills are put to good use on Tadd Dameron’s dulcet “Good Bait,” which is transformed into something classical from its original bebop intent and then comes the Earl Burroughs-written, and stoically drum-led “Plain Gold Ring” with the album rounding out on her rendition of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” (which feels more like a regal gospel song than the Rodgers & Hammerstein show tune it was), one of her signature songs in the form of “I Loves You, Porgy,” coming to a close on one the finest jazz tracks Simone ever created, the soft shuffled hipsway of “Central Park Blues.”

In her essay written specifically for this release, Daphne A. Brooks, author of such acclaimed books as Liner Notes for the Revolution, puts it best when she asserts that Little Girl Blue presents “an astonishingly daring, dazzlingly confident, endlessly adventurous artist with a deep well of formidable instrumentality up her sleeve as well as a wide and robust, rich and varied knowledge of jazz, blues, American songbook, folk and spiritual standards and aesthetics.”

Amazon Purchase Link