Nat King Cole, The Unforgettable

The popular audience worships its icons and, should they die prematurely – as did pianist, singing-actor Nat “King” Cole did, at only 46, in Santa Monica Hospital, on
15TH February 1965 – their affection is redoubled. To a whole generation Nat Cole the radio and TV star was the black-velvet Family Favourites vocalist who provided regular backing to their Sunday lunches with such as Mona Lisa, Pretend, Smile or When I Fall In Love. However, a good number of his most avid fans of those days might still be surprised to learn that, quite apart from his achievement in the sphere, Nat is rated among the finest of jazz pianists. While his early importance as a bandleader and arranger may now be less widely appreciated than previously, his influence as a pianist on Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson (Cole was, after all, many times a Downbeat, Metronome and Esquire awardwinner) is certainly fully recognised only by initiates of jazz piano.

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A treasury for fans of Nat King Cole!

Who could forget Nat King Cole? His silken legato delivery of so many popular ballads thrilled millions in the mid-20th century? No wonder so many ladies swooned listening, for instance, to his way with ‘Don’t blame me’ – “for falling in love with you.” Nat King Cole’s recordings consistently reached top positions in the charts, hits such as: ‘For Sentimental Reasons’, ‘Nature Boy’, ‘Too Young’ ‘Love is a Many-Splendoured Thing’ (the title song of the film with Jennifer Jones) and ‘Tenderly’

Nat died at the tragically early age of 46 leaving behind him such unforgettable hits as (as well as those mentioned above): ‘Mona Lisa’, ‘Pretend’, ‘Smile’ ‘Embraceable You’ and ‘When I Fall In Love’. All these and 44 other gems are included in this collection. The collection spans the earliest recording made in November 1943 of ‘Straighten Up and Fly’ from the film Here Comes Elmer  to ‘Fascination’ recorded on 8th August 1957 with Nelson Riddle and his Orchestra.

Nat was born in Montgomery Alabama and showed, early, a precocious talent for the piano. He was weaned on the classics (“from Bach to Rachmaninov”) and first learned to play the piano by ear before formal musical training. This mix of learning probably helped him forge such a winning intimate style. As usual Peter Dempsey’s informative and illuminating notes chart the singer’s life and career through his solo work with bands, in night clubs, on radio and in films and in the recording studios. MusicWeb-International

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