Nina sings Ellington – but as always, she makes whatever she sings all her own! The album's a bit straighter than later efforts – with large backings by Stu Phillips that also feature vocals by the Malcolm Dodds Singers – but Nina also conceived the whole thing herself, as an effort to bring a new level of spiritualism to Ellington's work. The result is a masterpiece – proof that even in
her early years, Nina could completely transform anything she laid her hands on – and unlock a soulful depth that even the original recordings might have missed. Titles include "I Got It Bad", "Solitude", "The Gal From Joe's", "It Don't Mean A Thing", and "I Like The Sunrise". Next up is a key early moment for Nina Simone – recorded live at Newport in
1960, at a time when the festival was one of the most important showcases for groundbreaking jazz – and a perfect setting for Nina to really let loose in
that righteous style that would fuel her career during the 60s! Given that Simone could sometimes be turned out of the cabaret crowd with her politics, the warm welcome she gets at Newport is very fitting support – and you can really hear it in
the way she approaches the material! The set's a hip batch of tunes that includes a few standards like "Trouble In Mind
" and "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To", all done with the righteous Simone flair – plus other lesser-known tracks like "Flo Me La" and "Nina's Blues", opened up in
the setting with some nice small combo backing!