The two albums enclosed in At Town Hall/The Amazing Nina Simone bookend the remarkable summer of 1959 in the career of Nina Simone, when she recorded a studio session, The Amazing Nina Simone, in May, and in September appeared At Town Hall in a superlative performance that was recorded and soon issued. Just 26, Simone displayed great assurance, especially on the live date, casting off the cloak of the vocal jazz/standards singer and performing with her own trio featuring her lively piano. The studio date features an orchestra, but it too finds her early on in her recording career stamping her voice on standards "Willow Weep for Me" and "Blue Prelude".
If this is blues, it's blues in the Billie Holiday sense, not the Muddy Waters one. This is one of Nina Simone's more subdued mid-'60s LPs, putting the emphasis on her piano rather than band arrangements. It's rather slanted toward torch-blues ballads like "Strange Fruit," "Trouble in Mind," Billie Holiday's own composition "Tell Me More and More and Then Some," and "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out." Simone's then-husband, Andy Stroud, wrote "Be My Husband," an effective adaptation of a traditional blues chant. By far the most impressive track is her frantic ten-minute rendition of the traditional "Sinnerman," an explosive tour de force that dwarfs everything else on the album.
Nina Simone recorded seven albums for the Philips label between 1964 and 1966. It was the period in her career in which her reputation was cemented as a world-class artist, and one in which she gained fame for her contributions to the civil rights movement as well. Despite the fact that she recorded great albums both before and after her years with Philips (most notably with RCA), her Philips period is easily her most enigmatic. Among her Philips recordings are her live label debut and six studio recordings featuring wildly varying instrumentation, arrangements, and contents. The box contains all seven LPs on four CDs, and includes one bonus track.
To Be Free: The Nina Simone Story is a 3 CD Career Retrospective (1957-1993) including her work for Bethlehem, Colpix, Philips, RCA, CTI and Elektra, PLUS a DVD featuring the 1970 Emmy-nominated never-before-released documentary. This package includes 54 songs, 8 previously unreleased tracks, including some never recorded elsewhere. The box includes all chart hits (U.S. and U.K.) and her most famous signature songs. An added bonus are liner notes which include track-by-track commentary from Simone biographer, David Nathan, and introduction by Ed Ward, NPR's "rock & roll historian", and never-before-seen photos from her family archives, recording sessions and performances.
Laura Mvula uncovers the influence of Nina Simone’s classical training in her version of Love Me or Leave Me. Laura Mvula illustrates the contrapuntal classical piano technique that Nina Simone puts to good use in her version of Love Me or Leave Me.