Nat King Cole: Long Live the King
Three words into “You’re My Everything,” the first track on Allan Harris’ debut disc, It’s a Wonderful World, recorded back in 1995, and the eerie vocal resemblance to Nat “King” Cole became evident. On subsequent albums—Setting the Standards (with its startlingly Cole-esque “On the Street Where You Live”), the Strayhorn tribute Love Came, even on Harris’ ambitious, self-penned Cross That River, an examination of African-Americans’ previously unsung contributions to settling the Western frontier—the echo of Cole grew steadily more arresting. So, it only makes sense that Harris has decided to devote an entire platter to Cole songs. The project began with a 10-day tour of Israel with a Cole tribute show. Harris was then invited to recreate his Cole homage at the Kennedy Center, and had the foresight to record the proceedings. Hence, this 13-track salute, which covers the entire spectrum of Cole’s three-decade vocal career, from “Straighten Up and Fly Right” to “L-O-V-E.” The principal focus is on Cole’s more pop-oriented hits from the 1950s, with renditions of “Too Young,” “Mona Lisa,” “A Blossom Fell,” “Pretend,” “Non Dimenticar” and “Unforgettable,” all carefully crafted to mirror the million-selling originals. Wisely, though, Harris recognizes that no one could replicate the fogged fragility of Cole’s “Nature Boy,” so he opts for a more muscular treatment that serves Eben Ahbez’s haunting treatise on reciprocal love equally well.