Nat King Cole & Me
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Nat "King" Cole & Me
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Two-time GRAMMY-winning vocalist Gregory Porter s 3rd Blue Note album, Nat King Cole & Me, is a heartfelt tribute to his idol, the legendary singer, pianist and Capitol recording artist Nat King Cole.
With the help of 6-time GRAMMY-winning arranger Vince Mendoza, the London Studio Orchestra, a core band featuring pianist Christian Sands, bassist Reuben Rogers, and drummer Ulysses Owens, and special guest trumpeter Terence Blanchard on two tracks, Porter revisits some of Cole s most cherished classics such as Mona Lisa, L-O-V-E, Nature Boy & The Christmas Song
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"“He was one of a kind. He left such great music – such beautiful things to listen to..." Gregory Porter on Nat "King" Cole
Five EXCEPTIONAL Stars. This is the sensational double Grammy-winning composer, actor, and soul, jazz, and gospel song stylist Gregory Porter in his latest Blue Note recording, "Nat "King" Cole & Me", which is a fabulous tribute to the legendary popular music and jazz music singer and innovative jazz pianist Nat “King” Cole. Cole was a great inspiration for the multiple poll-winning Porter during some tough times in his life and was the basis for an early "autobiographical" musical called “Nat King Cole & Me”. On this latest album, he uses his unique baritone voice to perform mostly well-known and not so well-known Cole hits, even in Spanish from the “Cole Espanol” album. The Blue Note website fittingly refers to Porter’s “extraordinary timbre, style, and ultimate cool”. Porter receives excellent support from the excellent rhythm section of Christian Sands on piano, Rueben Rogers on double bass, and Ulysses Owens on drums, as well as the orchestral support by the London Studio Orchestra (LSO) playing excellent arrangements by Vince Mendoza. Trumpeter Terence Blanchard is the special guest.
The ‘best of the best’ begins with three huge Cole hits: the lovely “Mona Lisa”, the salutary ballad “Smile”, from the Charlie Chaplin film, “Modern Times”, by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons, and the prophetic, singular “Nature Boy” which were perfect vehicles for the velvet baritone of Nat Cole, and fits Porter as well. Porter only uses his own musical persona and vocal approach throughout these performances. “Smile” in particular begins with a lovely harp and french horn introduction, then the full effect of the LSO string section enters with swirling figurations as Porter enters with a marvelous introduction and is very emotional in his delivery throughout. The revitalized “Miss Otis Regrets” has fascinating atmospherics from the LSO as Porter marvelously sells the tragic story. Two bright, uptempo numbers are: the buoyant “Pick Yourself Up” and “Ballerina” both of which have Porter giving ‘life advice’ in highly-personalized performances, as the LSO becomes a swinging jazz big band accentuated by a sparkling piano solo by Sands. From Nat Cole’s last recording session, Porter’s swinging version of “L-O-V-E”, is by Bert Kaempfert and Milt Gabler and was a minor hit for Cole but which he released internationally by recording the song in many languages, including Japanese with English, Spanish, and French. On the often recorded Osvaldo Farrés song “Quizas, Quizas, Quizas” (aka “Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps”), Porter sings entirely in Spanish with a passable accent. And perhaps best of all, in an album full of swinging music and dramatic vocal gems, are the gut-wrenching Porter performances of the fairy tale-like “When Love Was King” enhanced by wave after wave of LSO crescendos and a short, invigorating bass solo by Rogers and the ardent Porter performance of “The Lonely One”. “The Christmas Song” is the heartwarming cherry on the cake with Blanchard’s trumpet adding to the ambience. In all, this is Gregory Porter and musical friends giving inspired performances of songs by Nat “King” Cole that once inspired and fascinated Porter as a youngster. Kudos to Vince Mendoza for his arrangements. My Highest Recommendation. Five IMPRESSIVE Stars. (Blue Note records. 12-MP3 tracks, with the “Deluxe” edition having 3 bonus tracks. Time-49:16.)
Smooth, silky and seductive as usual, Porter's voice simply glides over the notes. He's an amazing Jazz Singer and putting him on top of Cole's songbook was a great idea.