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Nina Simone at the Village Gate Live

11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Nina Simone recorded for Columbia Pictures adjunct Colpix records from 1959 through 1964, cutting 10 records for the imprint. Five of her Colpix records were concert recordings, a setting that suits her idiosyncrasies while protecting her from overproduction, and one she's returned to frequently. At the Village Gate captures a particularly intimate 1961 performance and stands as the cream of her live collections. Backed by a trio that includes her favorite sideman, guitarist Al Shackman, Simone ranges from the yearning "He Was Too Good to Me" to a sprightly eight-minute-plus version of "Bye Bye Blackbird" that displays her underrated keyboard skills. This is the kind of album that ages like a fine merlot. --Steven Stolder

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Just In Time
  2. He Was Good To Me
  3. House Of The Rising Sun
  4. Bye Bye Blackbird
  5. Brown Baby
  6. Zungo
  7. If He Changed My Name
  8. Children Go Where I Send You

Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 16, 1991)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Live
  • Label: Blue Note Records
  • ASIN: B000005HGA
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #77,634 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 42 people found the following review helpful By notaprofessional VINE VOICE on November 5, 2002
Format: Audio CD
I recently read her autobiography, and in reference to this concert at the Village Gate, Nina Simone stated that she owned the crowd that night, and if you don't believe it you can buy the album and hear for yourself. Ms. Simone does not exaggerate: she gave an incredible performance that night.
The album starts with a jazzy standard "Just In Time", then goes onto a ballad. Already having snapped your fingers and bopped your head, then stared wistfully, meaningfully into space while the ballad works its magic, you shift into blues with her breathtaking rendition of "House of the Rising Sun" which she released before the Animals had the hit.
One thing that's great about this album is that it really showcases her skills as a classically trained concert pianist. Though most people, sadly, know her as a vocalist and stylist, she's playing the piano when you hear one in her songs because she never intended to do popular music, but there had not yet been a black woman concert pianist and despite her best efforts and prodigious talent, she did not succeed in being the first. The fourth track on the album is a nice lift from the second and third, more somber tracks.
"Brown Baby" returns to the eerie and hopeful ballad territory. Though she became known for her protest music later in her career, at the time of this recording Nina was still doing a variety of styles. To hear the emotion and strength of conviction in this song is to understand how anyone develops the strength to fight passionately for justice, and to taste the salty tears of rage.
"Zungo" is upbeat and yet another style. Then "If He Changed My Name" turns toward the reflective strength of the spirit, a sparse arrangement with haunting vocals.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Peter on November 15, 2000
Format: Audio CD
This CD is not to be missed. Don't be put off by the low song count (8), each song easily tops 5-6 minutes (some clock in at 8 mins)and what's missing in quantity is made up for in quality. The intimacy of Nina's appearance here is captured as she sheds new light on well-worn Broadway standards and unknown songs alike. Her voice was also a bit lighter than it became later on so she hits some high notes easily. As usual her piano-playing is great and she's backed by great sidemen but they never get in the way of her singing. Plop this CD in the player and suddenly you are sitting in the audience watching and listening to Nina in New York's Village, 1961. That's how intimate this CD is.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Jana L.Perskie HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 3, 2003
Format: Audio CD
In the intimate ambiance of The Village Gate, Nina Simone made pure magic with her voice and on the keyboard, one Manhattan evening back in 1961. She sang and played with a trio, which featured her favorite guitarist, Al Shackman. We are so fortunate that the moment was captured and recorded. This is by far my favorite collection of Ms. Simone's music.
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.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Rick Cornell VINE VOICE on October 14, 2005
Format: Audio CD
In reviewing Nina Simone's 1982 disc re-released earlier this year, "Fodder On My WIngs", I said that earlier Nina Simone fills the bill better. This disc is one of the ones I'm talking about. It fills the bill compared to anything; it truly is a classic.

Recorded live at The Village Gate in 1961, this album was a harbinger of many things to come, and a showpiece for Nina Simone's versatility and virtuosity.

Consider her versions of "If He Changed My Name" and "House of the Rising Sun", later made more famous by Roberta Flack and Eric Burdon but undeniably inspired by Ms. Simone. She tells the audience that "Sun" is a folk song and she performs it that way, quietly, with the tinge of shame and guilt that the words of the song imply.

Or consider "Brown Baby." Here she sings of self-affirmation and "Black pride"--before the word "Black" was fashionable, and before Martin Luther King, James Meredith, Medger Evers and Bull Connor had wended their ways into national consciousness. She didn't just inspire an artist or two here: she helped to inspire a movement.

Or consider "Bye Bye Blackbird": No vocals here, just piano with the trio of Al Shackman (g), Chris White (b) and Rob Hamilton (d). They turn this standard into a cross between Dixieland, Bach and Thelonious Monk. It confirms that Ms. Simone was one of the best pianist-chanteusses ever.

And then consider the last cut and the album's highlight, "Children Go Where I Send You." At the beginning, Ms. Simone says to the audience, "Y'all ever been to a revival? You don't know what I'm talkin' 'bout, do ya? Well, you in one now!" And so we are. I can't remember ever hearing a tune that compelled me to sing along--in riffing, scatting harmonies--the first time.
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