Nat King Cole

BMI Music Group, 2007


REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


This was the last Nat King Cole album ever released. That in and of itself is depressing; for my money, Cole was a better pop/jazz singer than either Frank Sinatra or Tony Bennett, and had he lived he would probably be…I don’t know, doing duets with Bono or something. As it is, Cole’s work can be overlooked by fans of the swing/jazz genre.  Hopefully, that will change with the rerelease of his studio albums on CD, remastered with bonus material. L-O-V-E is the first of those I have had the pleasure to listen to, and…well…damn. This is sweet, gang.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

A little background is called for here. L-O-V-E  is a collection of songs that became pop standards when first released, a straight-ahead selection of romantic swing and jazz vocal selections with a judicious peppering of folk influences. Anyone with historical awareness larger than, say, a tree squirrel knows some of these songs, but Cole’s magnificent vocals make them uniquely his. Better yet, the sterling arrangements of Ralph Carmichael make these songs elegant jazz instrumentals in their own right.

There are, as I said, a lot of songs that most music fans will know, but Cole makes them his, effortlessly. “More” becomes an almost triumphant expression of love, “L-O-V-E” is , as far as I’m concerned, the definitive version, and “Girl From Ipanema” is delivered almost wistfully with Cole’s expressive voice becoming gentle. Cole also worked his magic on some lesser-known standards: “Thanks To You,” “There’s Love,” and “Three Little Words” are classics. The bonus tracks are interesting; the difficult “Marnie” is not, frankly, one of my favorite songs, but Cole does what he can with it. “Silver Bird” and “A Rag, A Bone, and a Hank Of Hair” show Cole experimenting with Kingston Trio-style folk, and while it’s intriguing, it never really hits a groove. The highlight is “More and More Of Your Amor;” Cole’s Latin-influenced sound is playful, laced with horn flourishes.

L-O-V-E is an excellent collection of pop standards, delivered by the man I feel is one of the greatest traditional pop and jazz vocalists of the twentieth century. There are some miscues, but overall, this is a fitting tribute to a master’s last work.

Rating: B+

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