One of the primary authors of the American songbook is Nat King Cole. Born in Montgomery, Alabama in 1919, Nathaniel Adams Cole would not only go on to be one of the first African-Americans to host a television variety show, but he would become one of the most popular jazz pianists and vocalists in the world and of all time.
Jazz singer Gregory Porter wrote and recorded a ditty when he was five and played it for his mother. She gave him a great compliment, telling him he sounded just like Nat King Cole. He didn't know who that was and decided to do some detective work by going through her sacred stash of albums. It was then that he first discovered Nat King Cole. He put the needle on the vinyl and heard the melodious sound of "Nature Boy" and it resonated with him. Just like his mother used to give him "nuggets" of wisdom, he found that "Nature Boy" gave him one too: that the greatest thing you'll ever learn is to love and be loved in return. That indeed is a surefire formula for happiness.
Porter pays homage to his idol with his latest release Nat "King" Cole & Me, which arrives courtesy of the legendary Blue Note Records. During the Nat "King" Cole & Me album trailer, Porter shares a piece of wisdom his mother gave him: "Guard your heart 'cause from it comes the issues of life." In the case of listening to Porter's ardent renditions of Cole's works, open your heart and accept those issues, for they're the stuff that makes life enjoyable: heartache, redemption, self-reflection, love.
The subjects of Cole's songs are simple, yet sophisticated and Porter uses his rich vocal instrument to not only mirror Cole, but add his own unique shadings to the fifteen tracks on the deluxe version of the album. He hefts Cole standards "Nature Boy," "Smile" and "Mona Lisa" with the greatest of ease, nurturing each and infusing them with the necessary emotion. No song signifies the holidays as much as "The Christmas Song." The intro of the sweeping violins and Nat King Cole's honeyed timbre are a recipe for holiday cheer. Porter's take on it is delicate, yet reverential. He slides in and out of his rich baritone, wrapping his dulcet vocals around it like a snug cashmere sweater.
Every song for Porter seems to be an examination of his own unlimited musical talent. He seems to understand every song and internalizes them, which leads to an honest delivery. With his fifth studio album, Gregory Porter does Nat "King" Cole, as well as himself, proud with this incandescent tribute.
Notable Tracks: “Ballerina” | “Miss Otis Regrets” | “Smile” | “The Christmas Song”