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Music Review

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Nat "King" Cole and Me


Artist: Gregory Porter
Label: Decca/Blue Note
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 27 October 2017

Grammy-winning singing sensation Gregory Porter is back with a new album. Nat "King" Cole & Me is a deeply personal tribute to Nat "King" Cole – the legendary crooner who ignited Porter’s love of music. The new album marks the first time Porter has recorded with a full 70-piece orchestra, under the baton of six-time Grammy-winning conductor and arranger Vince Mendoza...

Gregory Porter's new album is the perfect release to get everyone in the mood for Christmas. The choice of songs and, more importantly, the orchestral arrangements ensure that this will bring forth waves of nostalgia of a bygone era. And while Porter isn't attempting to mimic Nat "King" Cole's voice, there's no mistaking the fact that they have a very similar style.

While Porter is a master of his craft, Vince Mendoza is instrumental here in delivering orchestral arrangements that instantly deliver huge nostalgic appeal. Porter takes each song on the album and makes it his own. Even the iconic 'Christmas Song' gives the original a run for its money... and in truth (and I have to whisper this for fear of being lynched) I actually prefer Porter's take on it.

Where Mendoza's magic becomes instrumental is in the wonderful arrangements on tracks like 'Miss Otis Regrets' (which will send a chill down your spine), 'I Wonder Who My Daddy Is' (which starts off simply, before the orchestra builds and then tails off again; and 'But Beautiful'; and 'For All We Know'. In addition 'The Lonely One' brought to mind John Barry's orchestral work on some of the early James Bond movies.

The album is available in two editions. The standard version contains 12 songs (49 min, 16 sec), while the deluxe edition contains 15 songs (1 hr, 02 min, 53 sec). Personally, I strongly advise picking up the deluxe edition, otherwise you'll be robbed of hearing two of this album's finest releases 'But Beautiful' and 'For All We Know'.

Personal highlights include 'Mona Lisa'; 'Smile'; 'Miss Otis Regrets'; 'But Beautiful'; and 'For All We Know'.

This is a wonderful album and will appeal to both fans of Porter as well as those who enjoy listening to Nat "King" Cole. I can't recommend this enough.

Track listing:

01. Mona Lisa
02. Smile
03. Nature Boy
04. L-O-V-E
05. Quizas, Quizas, Quizas
06. Miss Otis Regrets
07. Pick Yourself Up
08. When Love Was King (arrangement of an original Gregory Porter composition from Liquid Spirit)
09. The Lonely One
10. Ballerina
11. I Wonder Who My Daddy Is
12. But Beautiful *
13. Sweet Lorraine *
14. For All We Know *
15. The Christmas Song

* Only available on the deluxe edition


Darren Rea

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