Nat King Cole

The Legendary Nat King Cole [DVD]

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Part of Music Video Distributors' Jazzmemories series, this documentary DVD was issued by MVD on October 5, 2004, two weeks before Eagle Vision released When I Fall in Love: The One and Only Nat King Cole. It contains portions of some of the material found on the When I Fall in Love DVD: duets with Sammy Davis, Jr., a campy version of "Somewhere Along the Way," Ella Fitzgerald on "Too Close for Comfort," and Johnny Mercer performing "Save the Bones for Henry Jones," to name just three of the repeated clips. Oddly, there's no tracking on the inside or on the front and back covers of The Legendary Nat King Cole and no mention of who is doing the narration during the documentary. Some of the commentary gives insight -- that pianist Cole didn't think of himself as much of a singer (a sentiment, it's been said, that guitar genius Jimi Hendrix felt about himself as well) -- and for those unfamiliar with the Nat King Cole story, there's enough factual information to make this entertaining and informative. There are some questionable elements to the documentary, though, statements that push the envelope. "One can only guess what his full contribution to jazz would have been had Nat decided to dedicate himself exclusively to the piano" is just one of the silly lines spoken over the still photographs. Would Jimi Hendrix have been a better guitarist if he didn't sing? And while showing a clip of Route 66 the narrator makes this even more stunning statement: "To this day, Cole remains the most successful artist in the history of the label. Cole made so much money for Capitol that the Capitol tower...would be christened 'the house that Nat built.'" Guess the narrator never heard of a band called the Beatles, and maybe that's why his name is not found anywhere on this disc. But for the most part, The Legendary Nat King Cole is still worthwhile, just not as comprehensive -- or authentic -- as the Eagle Vision release, but adequate and entertaining. The bonuses contain movie clips including the title track from director Fritz Lang's 1953 motion picture Blue Gardenia (written by Bob Russell and Lester Lee and arranged by Nelson Riddle) and (also from 1953) "My Flaming Heart" from Leslie Kardos' Small Town Girl. There are three moments taken from Cole's legendary TV show as well as 18 additional clips.

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