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THE INCOMPARABLE NAT KING COLE

Review by Mark Wiechman

Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Stereo
Video:   B & W
Studio:  Kultur
Features:  Discography and Biography
Length:  100 minutes
Release date:  July 2, 2002

Film ***1/2

It is very appropriate that Nat “King” Cole’s signature song is “Unforgettable.”  Even if he had not been asked by an audience in 1932 to sing while he played, he would still be considered an excellent pianist, and his talent in this area is evident on several tunes on this DVD.  But his influence as a vocalist has been enormous, from Miles Davis to Diana Krall, whose first hit album was a dedication to the Nat King Cole Trio.

This is an extraordinary DVD because it has 47 full-length songs featuring appearances by the Oscar Peterson trio, Ella Fitzgerald, Johnny Mercer, Sammy Davis, Jr., Stan Getz, and of course his conductor Nelson Riddle.

These performances are interesting because it was so unusual for a black entertainer to have his own show in 1957.  While it only lasted one season, it was one great season.

The song list includes “That Reminds Me. I’m Gonna Sit Right Down…”, “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face”, “It’s Only A  Paper Moon”, “How High the Moon”, “Unforgettable”, and many other standards, all sung in Cole’s inimitable style.

Video **

Only B & W, but fairly clean for a program from 1957.   The songs segue nicely from one to the next, which is better than many music video DVD collections of modern music.

Audio **

Of course this is an ancient TV program but the audio is better than expected.  The 5.1 mix is of course simulated, but it does fill the room very nicely.  You could just put it on for the music alone and still enjoy this collection of standards.

Features *

Just a biography and discography.    

Summary:

One of those special DVDs which is interesting to watch. but even more valuable for its listening value:  standards sung by one of America’s finest voices.