Wednesday, March 28, 2012

After Midnight

Nat 'King' Cole is one of those musicians whose work seems to connect with generation after generation. Some music is cool for a while, and some is just permanently cool. "After Midnight," one of Cole's most celebrated recordings, is in the latter group, and has that smokey, after-hours feel that's as emotionally resonant today as it ever was. Like Diana Krall, Cole thought he was a jazz musician and was surprised to find himself a pop sensation. The sessions that comprise "After Midnight" feature the sensitive and warm vocal style that was in evidence throughout the singer's career, but the musical setting here is certainly more jazz than pop. Cole's trio, John Collins on guitar, Charlie Harris on bass, Lee Young on drums, is supplemented at times by Jack Costanza, Harry "Sweets" Edison, Willie Smith, Juan Tizol and Stuff Smith, on percission, trumpet, alto saxophone, valve trombone and violin, respectively. Most of the disc though, is Cole's fine piano, supplemented and supported by his sensitive trio. For those who enjoy jazz ballads and swing, particularly, this recording will be a delight: great material, fine vocals and a sophisticated 1950s groove. Some of his finest recordings.

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