December 19, 2009

"Night Lights"

I'd never heard of this Nat King Cole recording, from a 2001 re-release, but it's one of those times where, although I've never heard the song before (I don't think), it sounds utterly familiar. It's a 2001 rerelease of this material, featuring the singer's (and Frank Sinatra's) arranger/conductor, Nelson Riddle. Perhaps that's why this sounds so familiar to me. Whatever is the case, I just love this kind of stuff. It's so elegant and delicate, yet it swings like a mother. I think if I could go back in time to any place in the 20th century, I think it would be this era.

There is no Wikipedia entry for it, but the Amazon description is as follows:

Night Lights is the Nat "King" Cole album that time forgot. Recorded with Cole's regular musical director Nelson Riddle over Christmas and New Year of 1955-1956, it's never been released complete until now. This is Cole as pop singer rather than jazz pianist, and while the album is only now making its debut on this 24-bit digitally mastered CD, several numbers were released as singles and became chart hits: "Too Young to Go Steady," "To the Ends of the Earth," and "Never Let Me Go." That still leaves 12 cuts which have never been issued before, and as these were all brand-new songs at the time, that makes them world premiere recordings. The nostalgic "Sometimes I Wonder" plays virtually as a trial run for Cole's classic take on "Stardust," while "Once Before" and "I'm Willing to Share This with You" add ethereal voices in distinctive 1950s Hollywood style. Impeccably produced, with sophisticated arrangements by Riddle that balance lush strings, subtle rhythms, and instrumental colors from instruments such as flutes and celesta, this is warm-hearted, tender, and glowingly romantic music. Though they don't match the very best in Nat "King" Cole's catalog, these 20 ballads still make a fine album. They sat on the shelf for decades but the restored sound is first rate.

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