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In 2019, Cole is king. Feted on record by John Pizzarelli, celebrated with a new seven CD set of his early work from Resonance Records, and praised and reappraised from numerous journalistic angles, Nathaniel Adams Colesbetter known as Nat King Coleis receiving the posthumous plaudits he so richly deserves in this, his centennial year. Now, adding to the chorus, comes this easy-going charmer of a tribute from one of the West Coast's most underrated vocal talents.
Completely avoiding kitschy Cole and seriously upbeat avenues, veteran vocalist Nicolas Bearde settles comfortably into relaxed surroundings for the first leg of I Remember You: The Music Of Nat King Cole. Nothing on the early end pushes much, nor does it need to. From the opening title track over to the Eric Alexander-graced "That Sunday, That Summer" and "Funny (Not Much)," and on to the immortal "Sweet Lorraine" and "L-O-V-E," everything is fine and mellow. It's not until the start of the second half, with "Thou Swell," that things cook. A swing thing with strong solos from Alexander and pianist Josh Nelson, that performance proves to be a standout, and the only number bordering on burning in the mix.
The four remaining tracks, as with all that precede them, cement Bearde's place as an inheritor of Cole's cool. With "The Rules Of The Road," "Tenderly" and "I Wish You Love," he soothes and seduces. And with "Straighten Up And Fly Right," featuring some notable contributions from Nelson, bassist Alex Boneham and, above all, drummer Lorca Hart, Bearde is a soulful sensation.
It's not easy to consistently present with a sense of sophisticated ease, but such is one of Nicolas Bearde's many gifts. This one pleases by largely going down easy.
I Remember You; That Sunday, That Summer; Funny (Not Much); Sweet Lorraine; L-O-V-E; Thou Swell;
The Rules Of The Road; Straighten Up And Fly Right; Tenderly; I Wish You Love.
Nicolas Bearde: vocals; Josh Nelson: piano (2-4, 6-10); Peter Horvath: piano (1, 5); Eric Alexander: tenor
saxophone (2, 3, 6); Alex Boneham: bass (2-4, 6-10); Dan Feiszli: bass (1, 5); Dan Schnelle: drums (2, 3, 6,
9); Lorca Hart: drums (7, 8, 10); Jason Lewis: drums (1, 5).