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San Francisco Tenor Veteran Robert Stewart continues his productive run on RED Records with a tribute to a rarified and [instrumentally] little covered talent.
Nat King Cole has been the subject of several retrospectives in the last number of years, but none as unique as San Francisco native Robert Stewart's tenor tribute to the great singer. Often lost on the average listener, Nat Cole was a superb jazz pianist with a polite, urbane style that perfectly complimented is friendly vocals. Stewart chose for his recital lesser-known Cole gems, with the exception of "Mona Lisa". There is no "Straighten Up and Fly Right" here, but the ballads "That Sunday, That Summer" and the "Ruby and The Pearl" are. Family members Kevin Stewart (piano) and Robert Stewart III (flute) join Stewart for this outing. Performances of note are Robert III's flute on the title track (composed by the leader Stewart) and "Harlem After Midnight".
Stewart's tenor tone is what the listener has come to expect from his past RED Records recordings Judgement and Beautiful Love. His playing and ideas are sure and well constructed. He and his band swing with a gentle momentum that is most certainly a tribute to the great Nat King Cole. The total sound of the recording is lush and soft, making it a perfect mood disc. I unconditionally recommend this disc.
Track Listing: Nat The Cat; Make Her Mine; Harlem After Midnight; Blue Gardenia; Somewhere Along The Way; A Blossom Fell; That Sunday, That Summer; The Hand And The Sea; I Don't Want To See Tomorrow; The Ruby And The Pearl; Mona Lisa. (Total Time: 58:52)
Personnel: Robert Stewart: Tenor Saxophone; Ed Kelly: Piano; Mark Williams Bass; Sly Randolph: Drums; Kevin Stewart: Piano; Robert Stewart III: Flute.
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.