Celebrating Nat King Cole - For the Holidays - New York City Article
Celebrating Nat King Cole - For the Holidays Follow @nyccitiview
Alan Harris, “A Nat King Cole Christmas”
Smoke Jazz Club
Friday December 7 through Sunday December 9
“Nat King Cole at 100” with Sachal Vasandani
The Appel Room
Jazz at Lincoln Center
Broadway at 60th Street
Friday December 14 & Saturday December 15
Freddy Cole Quartet
featuring Special Guest Joel Frahm
315 W 44th Street, (212) 581-3080
Tuesday, December 18 through Sunday, December 23
Seventy years ago, the velvet voice Nat King Cole (1919-1965) was one of the dominant sounds became an ineffable part of the celebration of the holiday season, when his 1946 “Christmas Song” joined Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” and Judy Garland’s “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” as one of the iconic airs that defined the contemporary Christmas carol. This year, in anticipation of the hundredth anniversary of the birth of the great pianist - singer - entertainer in March, December is a perfect time to celebrate the lasting legacy of Nat King Cole.
Starting tonight, the veteran jazz singer and guitarist, Allan Harris, who summons the memory and the spirit of the late “King” better than anyone, is offering his unique take on a very specific aspect of the Cole songbook. Mr. Harris knows the royal repertoire better than anyone, and his show will go far beyond the expected, canonical blockbusters like “The Christmas Song” to worthy esoterica, such as a personal favorite of mine, the British song, “The Little Boy that Santa Claus Forgot.”
Sachal Vassandani, a talented young singer who at one point was regarded as a protegee of Mr. Harris, has assembled a highly ambitious Cole Centennial Celebration with a full all star big band (pay attention pianist Taylor Eigsti and baritone saxophone champion Gary Smulyan). This presentation that will surely be worthy of both its inspiration and its venue, the beautiful Appel Room - a space where every evening feels like a holiday.
Still, the number one torch-bearer of the King’s Royal legacy is his younger brother, Freddy Cole, who just celebrated his 87th birthday and just today, his latest Grammy nomination, for his current album My Mood is You. Although Mr. Cole makes a point to occasionally favor of us with the repertory of his late brother - and no one does a better job singing the King’s beautiful, lesser known carol, “A Cradle in Bethlehem” - he sings a great deal more besides, and does all of it in his own truly inimitable fashion. PS: my personal favorite of his holiday number is “Jingles the Christmas Cat,” a number truly worthy of a Rankin/Bass animated seasonal special. Long Live the King!
Author: Will Friedwald
Will Friedwald writes about music and popular culture for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, VANITY FAIR and PLAYBOY magazine and reviews current shows for THE CITIVIEW NEW YORK. He also is the author of nine books, including the award-winning A BIOGRAPHICAL GUIDE TO THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP SINGERS, SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU, STARDUST MELODIES, TONY BENNETT: THE GOOD LIFE, LOONEY TUNES & MERRIE MELODIES, and JAZZ SINGING. He has written over 600 liner notes for compact discs, received ten Grammy nominations, and appears frequently on television and other documentaries. He is also a consultant and curator for Apple Music.
SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU - NEW REVISED EDITION (Chicago Review Press, May 2018)