I can’t really categorize Nina’s sound or her music and call her ‘just’ a fabulous jazz vocalist. Although, she plays extraordinary jazz with her voice, as in “Just In Time”. She has been often called a musical anomaly, because there is no one category for her work. She was trained as a classical pianist, and in cuts like “Bye Bye Blackbird”, the complexity of her piano comes through loud and clear. Her folk songs, like the biting “House Of The Rising Sun”, and “Zungo”, an African work song, place her at the top of a long list of folk singers. Ms. Simone’s gospel songs, i.e., “Children Go Where I Send You”, can raise the roof and bring down the house, as she did at the Gate in ’61. She is a protest singer, “Brown Baby”, and an actress, capable of an extraordinary range of emotions.
Nina has the rare ability to dig into her material and bring unexpected meaning to familiar lyrics. She is eclectic with her taste and her repertoire. But whatever touches Nina, and whatever Nina touches, will reach you and evoke an emotional response. Her music is as fresh today, as it was 42 years ago, singing for that Manhattan audience. They could not have loved her more then, than we do now.
AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow
Nina Simone has the rare ability of really being able to dig into material and bring out unexpected meaning in familiar lyrics. On “Just in Time” from this set, she gives one the impression that if she had not been found “Just in Time,” she would have committed suicide. During “He Was Too Good to Me,” Simone sounds absolutely stunned about the end of a love affair. “Brown Baby” is both hopeful and defiant in its call for freedom, while “Zungo” is an African work song. Also from her 1961 trio performance at the Village Gate, Simone performs the overly serious “If He Changed My Name,” the good-time gospel piece “Children Go Where I Send You,” a regretful rendition of “House of the Rising Sun,” and an unpredictable instrumental version of “Bye Bye Blackbird.” Nina Simone, who was always in a category by herself, is heard throughout in her early prime.
2. He Was Too Good For Me
3. House of the Rising Sun
4. Bye Bye Blackbird
3. If He Changed My Name
4. Children Go Where I Send You