Nat King Cole

Swing Era

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There's a lot of Nat King Cole out on DVD, mostly from his later period as a pop-style vocalist. What makes this DVD special is that it presents 27 soundies and telescription performances (the visual equivalent of radio transcriptions, for early television) of Cole, a significant number of them with Cole as the leader of his trio, doing jazz, not pop. There are a few of his later well-known pop hits here, including "Mona Lisa" and "For Sentimental Reasons." "Too Young" and "Nature Boy" focus on Cole as a pianist and singer and don't even go through the motions of showing the other players, and a few novelty tunes such as "Calypso Blues" (which was very obviously at least one source for Chuck Berry's "Havana Moon") cast Cole in more of a conceptual (and silly) mode. But if one hangs in through those wasted (or, perhaps, just less useful) moments, there's plenty of the Nat King Cole Trio here, backloaded toward the end of the program. And even if it is a pop number, the last of those early-'50s telescriptions has a special attribute -- "Always You" was shot in color for television in 1951 and has survived that way. As with other Idem releases, this disc offers both NTSC (American format) and PAL (European format) playback, on opposite sides of the platter. It opens automatically to a simple menu with the "play" option in the default position.

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