Tuesday, 17 May 2016

"Nat King Cole Sings/George Shearing Plays" by NAT KING COLE and GEORGE SHEARING QUINTET (2000 Capitol 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...





"..Let There Be Love..." 

Back when this iconic and classic 1962 Jazz Vocals album was first being transferred onto the new spangled format of CD - George Shearing waxed lyrical about his favourite record collaboration receiving an Audio upgrade in the original 1987 liner notes. Well the piano-playing maestro would absolutely flip for this new August 2000 version - because to say that this CD incarnation is lush and smooth is like saying Leonardo Da Vinci was an alright painter and had the occasional good idea. Put simply - this new CD variant of "Nat King Cole Sings/George Shearing Plays" is gorgeous in every Audio way - brilliantly shining a digital light on the meeting of two great talents combined with the right material. Here are the dapper dudes...

UK released August 2000 – "Nat King Cole Sings/George Shearing Plays" by NAT KING COLE and THE GEORGE SHEARING QUINTET on EMI/Capitol Jazz 525 2502 (Barcode 724352525027) is an 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster and plays out as follows (46:57 minutes):

1. September Song
2. Pick Yourself Up
3. I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good)
4. Let There Be Love
5. Azure-Te
6. Lost April
7. A Beautiful Friendship [Side 2]
8. Fly Me To The Moon
9. Serenata
10. I’m Lost
11. There’s A Lull In My Life
12. Don’t Go
Tracks 1 to 12 are the album "Nat King Cole Sing/George Shearing Plays" - released April 1962 in the USA on Capitol W 1675 (Mono) and Capitol SW 1675 (Stereo). Produced by LEE GILLETTE and TOM ORGAN - Arranged by GEORGE SHEARING and RALPH CARMICHAEL with the String Choir conducted by Carmichael (STEREO mix is used for CD). The album was recorded 19 to 22 December 1961 in Capitol’s Studios in Los Angeles.

NAT KING COLE – Vocals
GEORGE SHEARING – Piano
AL HENDRICKSON – Guitar
EMIL RICHARDS – Vibes
AL McGIBBON – Bass
SHELLY MANNE – Drums

The 12-page booklet combines liner notes from George Shearing and Pete Welding (1987) with some addition stuff from WILL FRIEDWALD in 2000. There are discussions of his extraordinary career from 1944 right up to his untimely death in 1965 juts a few years after these sublime Jazz Vocal recordings (shame no pictures though). But all of that is naught to the truly beautiful CD Audio you get the second you start playing the expertly crafted songs. RON McMASTER did the 24-bit Super Bit Mapping Remixes and Remasters from first generation tapes and the sound is spotless – clean – full of presence and warmth. The Stereo is beautifully balanced - every string pluck and breathy vocal as clear as a bell – the Jazz Combo set up suiting both men.

The fluidity of Shearing’s piano fills the soft-shuffle "September Song" – a lovely opening salvo for a largely mellow album. The voice and his playing is the stuff of Jazz Vocal album legend – the perfect compliment to Nat's phrasing and those Ralph Carmichael string arrangements. You might think something as cheesy as "Pick Yourself Up" would not work – but the arrangement gives it fresh legs. The lush strings on "I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)" can only be described as 'sumptuous' and who out there doesn’t feel a tingle of inner glee when that piano intro to the glorious "Let There Be Love" arrives – surely a highlight for the whole record.

The vibe intro to "A Beautiful Friendship" feels like a perfect Martini in your Lounge of choice – his voice stunning and deep. Again he takes an old chestnut and transforms it with a slower arrangement and carefully placed vibes - "Fly Me To The Moon". It sails to a finish with "There’s A Lull In My Life" and the impossibly pretty "Don’t Go" Of the bonus tracks - the Latin rhythms and speed of "Game Of Love" is probably the reason it was excluded – just would have sounded out of place. Better are the two crooning vibe-laden ballads "Everything Happens To Me" and "Guess I’ll Go Back Home" – more in tune with the album’s overall feel.

A lovely album and a CD reissue that boasts exceptional Audio. "Let There Be Love" indeed...

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