The Essential Jazz Classics label presents in CD Nat King Coles Complete 1956 After Midnight Sessions - with 4 bonus tracks. Appearing at a time when, for the general public, he was more of a singer and entertainer than a jazz pianist, this album was a reminder of Nats superlative skills as an instrumentalist. For the remainder of his successful career which ended with his sudden death in 1965 due to lung cancer he continued singing more and more, and playing less and less.
This splendid, primarily instrumental album was to be one of his last hits as a pianist (as opposed to a singer and entertainer), presenting the classic Nat King Cole & his Trio, plus several of his illustrious friends as guests : Harry Edison, Willie Smith, Juan Tizol & Stuff Smith The current edition contains the complete master takes in their original session order, allowing the listener to enjoy the music just as it was recorded and fully appreciate the collaboration between Coles magic and the horns. As a bonus, we present a 4-track session featuring Cole with the same rhythm section, the year before.
01. You Can Depend On Me
03. Sweet Lorraine
04. It's Only A Paper Moon
05. (Get Your Kicks On) Route 66
06. Don't Let It Go To Your Head
07. You're Looking At Me
08. Just You, Just Me
09. I Was A Little Too Lonely (And You Were A Little Too Late)
11. The Lonely One
12. Blame It On My Youth
13. What Is There To Say?
14. Sometimes I'm Happy
15. I Know That You Know
16. When I Grow Too Old To Dream
17. Two Loves Have I
18. Don't Blame Me (*) Bonus Track
19. It Could Happen To You (*) Bonus Track
20. I Surrender Dear (*) Bonus Track
21. Little Girl (*) Bonus Track
Tracks #1-17 from "After Midnight" (Capitol W-782).
All sessions recorded in Los Angeles.
Tracks #1-5: August 15, 1956.
Tracks #6-9: September 14, 1956.
Tracks #10-13: September 21, 1956.
Tracks #14-17: September 24, 1956.
The bonus tracks #18-21 features: Nat King Cole, John Collins, Charlie Harris & Lee Young only. Recorded in Los Angeles, on July 14, 1955.
"Once Nat King Cole gave up playing piano on a regular basis and instead focused on a series of easy listening vocal albums, jazz fans longed for him to return to his first love. These 1956 studio sessions made up Cole's last jazz-oriented disc, where he played piano and sang on every number, joined by several guest soloists. Cole's vocals are impeccable and swinging, while his piano alternates between providing subdued backgrounds and light solos that don't reveal his true potential on the instrument. Willie Smith's smooth alto sax buoys the singer in the brisk take of "Just You, Just Me." Harry "Sweets" Edison's muted trumpet complements the leader in his interpretation of "Sweet Lorraine." Composer Juan Tizol's valve trombone and former Cole sideman Jack Costanzo's bongos add just the right touch to the brisk take of "Caravan." Stuff Smith's humorous, unusually understated violin is a nice touch in "When I Grow Too Old to Dream."
Ken Dryden -All Music Guide