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.
For those needing a reminder of Cole's very original and expert piano playing, this 18-track roundup of some of his best instrumentals should fit the bill. Part of Capitol's three-volume series of Cole's classic trio sides (the other two cover the vocals), The Best of the Nat King Cole Trio includes gem after gem from the group's 1943-1949 prime and features the classic lineup that included guitarist Oscar Moore and bassist Johnny Miller. With Cole and Moore seamlessly blending lines throughout, the group forged the standard for many a piano trio to follow by way of classics like "Jumpin' at Capitol," "Sweet Georgia Brown," and "These Foolish Things"…
A single-CD collection of Nat King Cole never does him justice, as there are too many songs to cover. This package is not very hit-oriented, does not feature his brilliant piano playing, and is laden with string arrangements. There is a version of the corny "People," but also great takes of "Lush Life," classics such as "Too Young to Go Steady" and "Smile," and the obscure "Mother Nature and Father Time." Search for a better "best-of" that is more platinum than tin.
For all the resurgence in interest in Nat King Cole since 1991, when his daughter Natalie recorded a duet patching her new vocal with his from 40 years earlier and scored a gold-selling hit, Capitol Records lacked a single-disc hits collection that covered Cole's most successful singles for the label. This 22-track, 62-plus minute CD/cassette collection does the trick…
In 1954, Capitol Records released the 10" LP collection Eight Top Pops, compiling eight songs that had appeared on singles by Nat King Cole during 1952. The first two, "Somewhere Along the Way" and "Walkin' My Baby Back Home," were the biggest hits, both reaching number eight in Billboard. "Because You're Mine," Cole's cover of the Mario Lanza movie song (done in a far more relaxed style than Lanza's, of course), was also a major hit, reaching number 16. "Faith Can Move Mountains" and "The Ruby and the Pearl" were somewhat less successful, but still lodged in the Top 30, as did the B-sides "Funny (Not Much)" and "I'm Never Satisfied." The only one of the eight songs not to earn a chart placing was "A Weaver of Dreams," the B-side of the single "Wine, Women and Song." In 1963, Capitol expanded Eight Top Pops into the 12" LP Top Pops by adding two tracks at the end of either side of the original release. These four songs all came from an EP recorded by Cole in 1954, on which he covered hits by other performers, including Doris Day's "If I Give My Heart to You," the De Castro Singers' "Teach Me Tonight," and Perry Como's "Papa Loves Mambo".
Nat King Cole's album 10th Anniversary proved to be an interesting watershed in his career. First finding fame as a popular jazz pianist leading a trio, Cole gradually added more and more vocals until he had pretty much left jazz behind for a full-time career as a singer. This compilation, issued on LP in 1955, drew from unreleased recordings from both his jazz and easy listening sessions. One can hear Cole's growth as a singer in his jazz tracks, scatting a bit in his "Lulubelle," though it is his impressive piano that dominates another original, "I'm an Errand Boy for Rhythm." "Peaches" is a rather pedestrian affair with the heavy-handed bongos of Jack Costanzo proving to be more of a distraction than a benefit. The easy listening vocals are a mixed bag. "Too Soon" is overwhelmed by Nelson Riddle's strings, though Dave Cavanaugh's campy Western satire "Rough Ridin'" fares better.
Emerging as a great pop vocal stylist in 1954, Nat King Cole enjoyed a string of hit singles and albums thereon, but Unforgettable is perhaps the singer at his early peak. With romance as the watchword, Cole slides through some of his most familiar ballads, include the title selection, "Portrait of Jennie," "Mona Lisa," and "I Love You (For Sentimental Reasons)." There are quite a few lesser known, but attractive songs, plus a small handful of standards ("What'll I Do?" is a keeper) that round out this interesting collection. The very artistic, near surreal three-dimensional white, charcoal black, and royal blue-hued front cover may be the best part of this reissue, as it reflects a time period defined by its simplicity and yet its increasingly technological, superimposed modernity.