When I Fall in Love – Original Hits of Nat King Cole
Nat King Cole (vocals)
Various orchestras conducted by Gordon Jenkins, Nelson Riddle, Les Baxter, Frank Devol, Pete Rugolo, Stan Kenton and others
Rec. 1947-62
ALTO ALN 1951 [77:00]

Nat King Cole, born in 1917 (or 1916), died in February 1965 from lung cancer. He became equally popular with both black and white listeners, mainly as a crooner with lush string accompaniments but he set out as a jazz pianist and many jazz lovers regret that he became commercialized and turned to what in those days was labelled middle-of-the-road. This well-filled disc covers primarily the 1950a and early 1960s but we get a glimpse of The Nat King Cole Trio in the bonus track The Christmas Song from 1947. It’s not however the ‘real’ King Cole Trio, since it is amended with a string section. Anyway Nat and the guitarist play some solo choruses.

Nat King Cole’s record company, Capitol, engaged some of the foremost orchestras and arrangers, as can be seen above. Today some of the arrangements seem too plushy and, honestly, sentimental. Most of the songs are slow ballads, which was Cole’s niche, and no one can deny that he sings them beautifully and with personality. Readers who are old enough will recognize favourites like Tenderly, Mona Lisa, Too Young, forever associated with Cole, and there are evergreens like Stardust, Chaplin’s Smile and Autumn Leaves. Some other songs stick out for various reasons. Ramblin’ Rose from 1962 is a rare visit to the Country and Western genre; Berlin’s Let’s Face the Music and Dance from 1961 swings nicely with muted brass and a meaty Hammond organ solo. There is no mentioning of what orchestra it is, though. Swingin’ is also Let There Be Love also from 1961, where he is backed by the George Shearing Quintet. Nature Boy from 1947 has a fine arrangement signed, I believe, Frank Devol, and Billy Strayhorn’s Lush Life from 1949 is another top contender – the orchestra is Pete Rugolo’s. In Orange-Coloured Sky (1950) Nat meets Stan Kenton’s Orchestra and there are several good titles with the ever reliable Nelson Riddle Orchestra.

The transfers are good and admirers of Nat King Cole can safely invest in this issue. All the best songs are there.

Göran Forsling
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Track listing
1. When I Fall in Love [3:09]
2. Tenderly [2:54]
3. Ramblin’ Rose [2:47]
4. Unforgettable [3:09]
5. Mona Lisa [3:14]
6. Too Young [3:10]
7. Answer Me [2:54]
8. Let’s Face the Music and Dance [2:25]
9. Darling, Je Vous Aime Beaucoup [2:49]
10. Let There Be Love [2:44]
11. Stardust [3:13]
12. Pretend [2:41]
13. Smile [2:52]
14. Nature Boy [2:38]
15. Lush Life [3:16]
16. Orange-Coloured Sky [2:35]
17. Somewhere Along the Way [2:51]
18. Because You’re Mine [3:11]
19. Faith Can Move Mountains [3:11]
20. Can’t? [3:13]
21. A Blossom Fell [2:31]
22. Autumn Leaves [2:38]
23. That’s You [2:35]
24. Mother Nature and Father Time [3:09]
25. Too Young to Go Steady [2:51]
26. The Christmas Song [3:12]