10th Anniversary

Nat King Cole

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10th Anniversary Review

by Ken Dryden

Nat King Cole's album 10th Anniversary proved to be an interesting watershed in his career. First finding fame as a popular jazz pianist leading a trio, Cole gradually added more and more vocals until he had pretty much left jazz behind for a full-time career as a singer. This compilation, issued on LP in 1955, drew from unreleased recordings from both his jazz and easy listening sessions. One can hear Cole's growth as a singer in his jazz tracks, scatting a bit in his "Lulubelle," though it is his impressive piano that dominates another original, "I'm an Errand Boy for Rhythm." "Peaches" is a rather pedestrian affair with the heavy-handed bongos of Jack Costanzo proving to be more of a distraction than a benefit. The easy listening vocals are a mixed bag. "Too Soon" is overwhelmed by Nelson Riddle's strings, though Dave Cavanaugh's campy Western satire "Rough Ridin'" fares better. Liner note writer James Ritz sings praises for Les Baxter's scoring of the ballad "The Story of My Wife," though the bland arrangement and melody bring to mind the prevailing attitude among other arrangers of the '50s ("The less Baxter, the better!"). By far the best tracks of Cole's popular vocals are the lush "Sleeping Beauty" and the dramatic "Lovelight," both of which are Nelson Riddle contributions. Regardless of the material or arranger, Cole's vocals have a timeless quality that makes one want to return to them again and again.

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