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." It's hard for any Nat King Cole fan to ignore these important sessions. [The original version of this release featured a dozen tracks, later expanded to 17 in the '80s with the discovery of some unreleased material. Yet another track, the alternate take of "You're Looking at Me," was also found and added to reissues beginning in the late '90s.] ~ Ken Dryden, Rovi
Track samples provided courtesy of iTunes
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