The powerful and challenging California-born sax virtuoso David Murray was heralded in the 1970s as an heir to the searing free-jazz icon Albert Ayler, then developed into the most eclectically receptive of world-musicians, making all-out improv and accessibly rootsy jazz and blues coexist in the most natural-sounding ways. But even by Murray's open standards, this is an unusual venture: he sets his broad-chested sax sound alongside the rasping Argentinian tango vocalist and arranger Daniel Melingo and Cuba's Sinfonieta of Sines ensemble, to reprise Nat King Cole's Latin America recordings, made in Spanish and Portuguese in 1958 and 1961.
Nicki Parrott plays bass and sings Nat King Cole's songbook with the help of fellow jazzmates John Di Martino on piano, Frank Vignola on guitar and Lisa Parrott on saxophone and clarinet. Born in Newcastle, Australia, Nicki started her musical training at age four with the piano, followed by the flute, soon after. Nicki switched to double bass at the age of 15. After graduating high school she moved to Sydney to study jazz at the New South Wales Conservatorium of Music where she began to play with Australian musicians such as Mike Nock, Dale Barlow, Paul Grabowsky, Bernie McGann, and Ten Part Invention. She also toured Australia with Russian musicians Daniel Kramer and Alexander Fischer and American trumpeters Bobby Shew and Chuck Findley. She continued her studies with various bassists including visiting artists Ray Brown and John Clayton.
One can sympathize with Freddie Cole's plight. The younger brother of Nat King Cole, Freddie has spent most of his life in his brother's shadow, even though Nat died in 1965. The problem is that Freddie is also a pianist/vocalist and sometimes performs similar material. In fact, the title of this CD is a bit absurd, since Cole is heard playing in the same type of group that Nat made famous (a trio with guitarist Ed Zad and bassist Eddie Edwards) and his repertoire includes such songs as "Home Fried Potatoes," "To Whom It May Concern," "The Best Man," and a ten-minute, six-song "Nat Cole Medley." Add to that such originals as "He Was the King" and "I'm Not My Brother, I'm Me," and one is not allowed to forget for a moment that Freddie was Nat's brother. Actually, Freddie has an older and raspier voice (which is natural, since he has outlived Nat) and his piano style is more tied to 1950s jazz (such as Red Garland) than to swing. This fairly definitive CD from Freddie Cole does give one a strong sampling of his talents.
Pianist/vocalist Diana Krall pays tribute to the Nat King Cole Trio on her Impulse! set. In general, the medium and up-tempo tunes work best, particularly such hot ditties as "I'm an Errand Girl for Rhythm," "Frim Fram Sauce," and "Hit That Jive Jack." Krall does not attempt to directly copy Cole much (either pianistically or vocally), although his influence is obviously felt on some of the songs. The slow ballads are actually as reminiscent of Shirley Horn as Cole, particularly the somber "I'm Through With Love" and "If I Had You." Guitarist Russell Malone gets some solo space on many of the songs and joins in on the group vocal of "Hit That Jive Jack," although it is surprising that he had no other opportunities to interact vocally with Krall; a duet could have been delightful. Bassist Paul Keller is fine in support, pianist Benny Green backs Krall's vocal on "If I Had You," and percussionist Steve Kroon is added on one song. Overall, this is a tasteful effort that succeeds.
Capitol Records took This Is Sinatra!, a compilation album, into the Top Ten in early 1957, which probably prompted the label to assemble a similar collection, This Is Nat "King" Cole, later in the year. Consisting of tracks not previously issued on a Cole LP, the disc contains seven recent Billboard singles chart entries among its 12 selections – "Too Young to Go Steady" (which reached number 21), "Forgive My Heart" (13), "Nothing Ever Changes My Love for You" (72), "To the Ends of the Earth" (25), "I'm Gonna Laugh You Right Out of My Life" (57), "Someone You Love" (13), and "Never Let Me Go" (79) – while an eighth song, "That's All," was the B-side of the 1953 Top 20 hit "Lover, Come Back to Me!" "Too Young to Go Steady," which peaked in April 1956, turned out to be all that was really heard of a stage musical intended for Broadway, Strip for Action, with songs by Jimmy McHugh and Harold Adamson, which closed out of town. "I Just Found Out About Love" and "Love Me as Though There Were No Tomorrow," two more songs from that ill-fated show, are among the previously unheard tracks unearthed for this compilation.