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Debonair Nat King Cole sat at the piano and sang for a large Las Vegas audience from 2:30 until 5:00 in the wee hours of the morning on January 14, 1960. This wasn't the usual casino audience: this dedicated throng flocked to see Cole with the knowledge that the performance would be recorded. They sensed something special and they were right. Entertainers' performing schedules usually overlap. Since this one was scheduled after most showrooms go dark, it offered other Las Vegas entertainers the opportunity to sit and enjoy.
As usual, the music includes Cole's graceful piano fills and brief keyboard solos. "Where or When" is presented as a piano feature, as are two bonus tracks (at the end), which were recorded in a studio several months earlier. The big surprise of the reissue comes in the form of another bonus trackthis one recorded that same morning at the Sands in Las Vegas: "Mr. Cole Won't Rock 'n' Roll." At the very end he adds, "I could if I wanted, though." Nat King Cole could do it all. This 8-minute medley includes a rock 'n' roll version of "Nature Boy" with altered lyrics that speak of "an enchanted cat" who said, "Come dwell in Heartbreak Hotel," and "I think, uh, Elvis was his name." The song is quite a gem, and adds immeasurably to the original recording.
The orchestra includes strings, but performs largely with a big band sound. Hence, the session swings. The emphasis for this well-preserved classic concert performance is on Cole's unforgettable vocal persona.
Track Listing: Ballerina; Funny (Not Much); The Continental; I Wish You Love; You Leave Me Breathless; Thou Swell; My Kinda Love; The Surrey With the Fringe on Top; Where or When; Miss Otis Regrets (She?s Unable to Lunch Today); Joe Turner Blues; Mr. Cole Won?t Rock ?n? Roll; In a Mellow Tone; Whatcha? Gonna Do.
Personnel: Nat King Cole- vocals, piano on ?Where or When,? ?In a Mellow Tone? and ?Whatcha? Gonna Do;? John Collins- guitar; Charlie Harris- bass; Lee Young- drums; Orchestra conducted by Antonio Morelli.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.