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The Legend at Her Best [Box]: Release Notes:
THE LEGEND AT HER BEST contains 4 LPs on 2 CDs: THE AMAZING NINA SIMONE (1959)/NINA SIMONE AT TOWN HALL(1959)/FORBIDDEN FRUIT(1961)/AT NEWPORT(1960).Also available on Collectables as two separate 2-for-1 CDs.Collectables dishes up four Nina Simone recordings from the late '50s and early '60s on a double-disc set. The first two -- The Original Nina Simone and Nina Simone at Town Hall -- were issued on the respected jazz and blues label Bethlehem in 1959, and the latter two -- Nina Simone at Newport (1960) and Forbidden Fruit (1961) -- were released on Colpix. The quality of these fairly early recordings, done in the first half-decade of Simone's recording career, cannot be overestimated. She was already in charge of her game, recording everything from big-band jazz arrangements and blues to more dramatic concert hall folk and popular material. Her piano playing was already in place and her control -- check "Black Is the Color of My True Love's Hair," "It Might as Well Be Spring," or Oscar Brown's "Forbidden Fruit" for evidence -- is already otherworldly. Arrangements are from the simple to the sophisticated, and the soulful, dramatic, and slow intense smoldering in her contralto is simply stunning. For those who want to investigate Simone's material beyond the usual compilations, this is a great start. ~ Thom Jurek