Tony Bennett – Playin’ With My Friends – Bennett Sings The Blues (2001)

FrontCover1.jpgPlayin’ with My Friends: Bennett Sings the Blues is a 2001 album by Tony Bennett featuring duets with notable vocalists.

Tony Bennett’s latter-day albums tend to have themes, and this one has two, as indicated by its double-barreled title: It is both a duets album and a blues album. The duet partners include ten singers who range from his recent touring partners Diana Krall and k.d. lang to fellow veterans Ray Charles, B.B. King, and Kay Starr, and younger, but still mature pop stars Stevie Wonder, Bonnie Raitt, and Billy Joel. All sound happy to be sharing a mic with Bennett. Not surprisingly, the singer’s conception of the blues does not extend to the Mississippi Delta or the South Side of Chicago; rather, he is interested in the blues as filtered through the sound of the Swing Era, particularly from around Kansas City, and as interpreted by Tin Pan Alley and show tunes. For the former, his true mentor is Count Basie, whose overt influence is heard on six of the 15 tracks.


Bennett makes no attempt to hide this, leading off the album with two songs, “Alright, Okay, You Win” (a duet with Krall) and “Everyday (I Have the Blues)” (a duet with Wonder), closely associated with Basie singer Joe Williams. The Broadway and Hollywood blues style is introduced in three selections written by Harold Arlen. On about half the tracks, the Ralph Sharon Quartet is augmented by Harry Allen’s saxophone and Mike Melvoin’s Hammond organ, but this remains a small, intimate affair that emphasizes the singers. There are missteps — Sheryl Crow’s Billie Holiday impersonation on “Good Morning, Heartache” is unfortunate, and Natalie Cole, as usual, sounds out of her depth on “Stormy Weather.” But the trade-offs Bennett enjoys with King and Charles are priceless, and the Joel duet is surprisingly effective. On the whole, this is yet another entry in Bennett’s lengthening series of autumnal recorded triumphs. (by William Ruhlmann)


Harry Allen (saxophone)
Tony Bennett (vocals)
Clayton Cameron (drums)
Paul Langosch (bass)
Mike Melvoin (organ)
Gray Sargent (guitar)
Ralph Sharon (piano)
Ray Charles – Natalie Cole – Sheryl Crow – Billy Joel – B.B. King – Diana Krall – K.D.Lang -Bonnie Raitt – Kay Starr – Stevie Wonder – Judy Garland


01. Alright, Okay, You Win (with Diana Krall) (Watts/Wyche) 3.31
02. Everyday (I Have the Blues) (with Stevie Wonder) (Chatman) 3.39
03. Don’t Cry Baby (Bernie/Johnson/Unger) 2.43
04. Good Morning Heartache (with Sheryl Crow) (Drake/Fisher/Higginbotham) 4.56
05. Let The Good Times Roll (with B.B. King) (Moore/Theard) 3.14
06. Evenin’ (with Ray Charles) (Parish/White) 4.15
07. I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues (with Bonnie Raitt) (Arlen/Koehler) 3.55
08. Keep The Faith, Baby (with K.D. Lang) (de Jesus/Lerner/Watts) 3.52
09. Old Count Basie Is Gone (Old Piney Brown Is Gone) (Turner) 3.25
10. Blue And Sentimental (with Kay Starr) (Basie/David/Livingston) 3.21
11. New York State Of Mind (with Billy Joel) (Joel) 4.31
12. Undecided Blues (Rushing) 3.18
13. Blues In The Night (Arlen/Mercer) 3.34
14. Stormy Weather (with Natalie Cole) (Arlen/Koehler) 4.34
15. Playin’ With My Friends (Cray/Walker) 4.50
16. I Left My Heart In San Francisco (with Judy Garland) (Cory/Cross) 3.08





Natalie Cole – Unforgettable – With Love (1991)

FrontCover1Unforgettable… with Love, also known as simply Unforgettable, is a 1991 album by American singer Natalie Cole. Released on June 11, 1991, The album focuses on covers of standards previously performed by her father, Nat King Cole. It was also her debut for Elektra Records, after being given her release from Capitol Records.

The record was very successful in the Pop, Jazz, and R&B markets and was considered the major comeback recording that had been brewing since Cole’s late 1980s releases. The album was certified 7x platinum as of 2009 by the RIAA. The album won the 1992 Grammy Awards for Album of the Year and Best Engineered – Non-Classical, while the track “Unforgettable” (duet with her father Nat King Cole) won four additional Grammys: Record of the Year, Traditional Pop Vocal Performance, Song of the Year and Arrangement Accompanying Vocals. The album also won Soul Train Music Award for Best R&B/Soul Album, Female the same year.

Two albums prior to this one (1987’s Everlasting and 1989’s Good to Be Back) also moved to Elektra after Cole signed with the label. Her uncle Ike Cole plays piano on the album.


A major change of direction for Natalie Cole, Unforgettable found the singer abandoning the type of R&B/pop she’d been recording since 1975 in favor of jazz-influenced pre-rock pop along the lines of Nat King Cole’s music. It was a surprising risk that paid off handsomely — both commercially and artistically. Naysayers who thought that so radical a change would be commercial suicide were proven wrong when the outstanding Unforgettable sold a shocking five million units. Quite clearly, this was an album Cole was dying to make. Paying tribute to her late father on “Mona Lisa,” “Nature Boy,” “Route 66,” and other gems that had been major hits for him in the 1940s and early ’50s, the 41-year-old Cole sounds more inspired than she had in well over a decade. On the title song, overdubbing was used to make it sound as though she were singing a duet with her father — dishonest perhaps, but certainly enjoyable. Thankfully, standards and pre-rock pop turned out to be a primary direction for Cole, who was a baby when the title song became a hit for her father in 1951. (by Alex Henderson)


Pianos: Monty Alexander (Track 20) Alan Broadbent (7, 12, 16, 19). Brad Cole (5-6, 14). Ike Cole (3). Clare Fischer (1, 21). Mike Lang (4, 8-9, 13, 15, 18, 22). Michael Melvoin (4, 8-9, 15, 22). Joe Sample (2, 10).
Drums: Sol Gubin (Tracks 4, 7-9, 15, 22). Jeff Hamilton (3, 12-13, 18). Harold Jones (1, 5-6, 14, 19-21). Dave Weckel (2, 10).
Bass: Ray Brown (Tracks 3-4, 8-9, 12, 15, 22). John Clayton (13, 18). Chuck Domanico (7). James Hughart (5-6, 14, 19). John Patitucci (2, 10). Andy Simpkins (1, 20-21).
Guitars: Dennis Budimir (Tracks 3, 7). John Chiodini (4, 8-9, 12, 15, 22). John Collins (20). John Pisano (20). Alfred Viola (5-6, 14, 19).
Violins: Murray Adler, Israel Baker, Marilyn Baker, Arnold Belnick, Dixie Blackstone, Mari Tsumura Botnick, Jacqueline Brand, Darius Campo, Stuart Canin, Lily Ho Chen, Gail Cruz, Isabelle Dashkoff, Bonnie Douglas, Assa Drori, Bruce Dukov, Pavel Farkas, Henry Ferber, Mike Ferril, Ronald Folsom, Armen Garabedian, Berj Garabedian, James Getzoff, Julie Gigante, Harris Goldman, Endre Granat, Diana Halprin, Clayton Haslop, Karen Jones, Nathan Kaproff, Ezra Kliger, Bernard Kundell, Kathleen Lenski, Brian Leonard, Rene Mandel, Edith Markman, Mike Markman, Yoko Matsuda, Ralph Morrison, Irma Neumann, Sid Page, Stanley Plummer, Barbara Porter, Anatol Rosinsky, Sidney Sharp, Paul Shure, Haim Shtrum, Raymond Tischer, Alex Treger, Gerald Vinci, Dorothy Wade, Miwako Watanabe, Kenneth Yerke
Violas: Samuel Boghossian, Denyse Buffum, Kenneth Burward-Hoy, Alan Deveritch, Pamela Goldsmith, Roland Kato, Myra Kestenbaum, Don McInnes, Carol Mukogawa, Dan Neufeld, Mike Novak, Kazi Pitelka, Myron Sandler, Harry Shirinian, Dave Stockhammer, Milton Thomas, Raymond Tischer
Celli: Jodi Burnett, Anthony Cooke, Ron Cooper, Steve Erdody, Christine Ermakoff, Paula Hochhalter, Armand Kaproff, Anne Karam, Dennis Karmazyn, Raymond Kelley, Armen Ksajikian, Nils Oliver, Dan Rothmuller, Frederick Seykora
String Basses: John Clayton, Chuck Domanico, Buell Neidlinger, Robert Stone, Margaret Storer
Harps: Katie Kirkpatrick, Gayle Levant, Dorothy Remsen, Joanne Turovsky
Oboes: Thomas Boyd, Gene Cipriano
Flutes: Louise DiTullio, Gary Foster, Susan Greenberg, Ronnie Lang
French Horns: Vincent DeRosa, David Duke, Marilyn Johnson, Arthur Maebe, Brian O’Connor, James Thatcher, Rick Todd, Brad Warnaar
Trumpets: Rick Baptist, Oscar Brashear, Conte Candoli (Track 5), Charles Davis, Chuck Findley (16), Gary Grant, Larry Hall, Steve Huffstetter, Warren Luening, Nolan Smith, Frank Szabo
Saxophones: Peter Christlieb (Tracks 9, 22), Bob Efford, Gary Foster, Dan Higgins, Don Menza, Dick Mitchell, Lanny Morgan, David “Fathead” Newman (11), Jack Nimitz, Bill Perkins, Robert Tricarico
Trombones: Peter Beltran, George Bohanon, Thurman Green, Tommy Johnson, Charlie Loper, Dick Nash (Track 15), Bruce Paulsen, Bill Reichenbach, Jack Redmond
Tuba: Tommy Johnson
Other Woodwinds: Pete Christlieb, Gene Cipriano, Louise DiTullio, Gary Foster, Steve Kujala, Ronnie Lang, Jack Nimitz, Sheridon Stokes
Celeste: Alan Broadbent
Synthesizers: Pat Coil, Tom Garvin, Ralph Grierson, Randy Kerber, Thomas Ranier
Percussion: Larry Bunker
Background Vocals (Track 9): Donna Davidson, Debbie Hall, Kerry Katz, Rick Logan, Gene Merlino, Don Shelton, Sally Stevens, Susie Stevens


01. The Very Thought of You (Noble) 4.16
02. Paper Moon (Arlen/Harburg/Rose) 3.25
03. Route 66 (Troup) 3.01
04. Mona Lisa (Evans/Livingston) 3.46
05. L-O-V-E (Gabler/Kaempfert) 2.31
06. This Can’t Be Love (Hart/Rodgers) 2.14
07. Smile (Chaplin/Parsons/Turner) 3.38
08. Lush Life (Strayhorn) 4.20
09. That Sunday That Summer (Sherman/Weiss) 3.31
10. Orange Colored Sky (Delugg/Stein) 2.27
11, Medley: For Sentimental Reasons/Tenderly/Autumn Leaves (Best/Gross/Kosma/Mercer/Prévert/Watson) 7.32
12. Straighten Up And Fly Right (N.K.Cole/Mills) 2.40
13. Avalon (DeSylva/Jolson/Rose) 1.51
14. Don’t Get Around Much Anymore (Ellington/Russell) 2.34
15. Too Young (Dee/Lippman) 4.32
16. Nature Boy (Ahbez) 3.24
17. Darling, Je Vous Aime Beaucoup (Sosenko) 3.25
18. Almost Like Being In Love (Lerner/Loewe) 2.11
19. Thou Swell (Hart/Rodgers) 1.50
20. Non Dimenticar (Dobbins/Galdieri/Prévert/Redi) 2.57
21. Our Love Is Here to Stay (G.Gershwin(I.Gershwin) 3.29
22. Unforgettable (Gordon) 3.28




Natalie Cole – Inseparable (1995)

FrontCover1Inseparable is the 1975 debut studio album by American singer Natalie Cole, released on May 11, 1975 by Capitol Records. The album became her first gold-certified album and spawned the number-one R&B hits “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)” and “Inseparable”. The hit album and its singles earned Cole to win two Grammy Awards including Best New Artist.

By 1974, Natalie Cole, the daughter of legendary jazz/pop crooner Nat King Cole, was struggling to get her own music career off the ground. Ever since she had started performing at clubs and festivals, Cole had tried to forge her own path away from the one that several of her father’s fans thought she would turn to. Cole refused to record jazz material in fear she would be accused of riding her father’s coattails. A longtime fan of soul and blues singers such as Janis Joplin and Aretha Franklin, Cole had instead inspired to follow in their footsteps. After performing at one club, she was spotted by musicians Chuck Jackson (step-brother of Jesse Jackson) and Marvin Yancy, who was shipping songs that had been ironically turned down by Franklin herself. Cole, Yancy and Jackson recorded demos for songs that later led to Cole being signed to her father’s label, Capitol Records. (by wikipedia)

SheetmusicWhen Natalie Cole’s debut album, Inseparable, came out in 1975, many fans of her late father hoped that she would follow his lead and embrace jazz and pre-rock pop. But Inseparable doesn’t sound anything like a Nat “King” Cole session, and it wasn’t until 1991’s Unforgettable that Natalie Cole recorded the sort of project her father would have recorded. In the 1970s, she was essentially an R&B singer, and the person she was compared to more than anyone was Aretha Franklin. Some reviewers also compared Cole to Chaka Khan, which made sense because Khan certainly didn’t escape Franklin’s influence either. To be sure, Cole brings a definite Franklin influence to this promising debut album; her admiration for the Queen of Soul comes through on the joyous, gospel-drenched “This Will Be” and the hit ballads “I Can’t Say No” and “Inseparable” as well as funky album tracks like “Something for Nothing” and “How Come You Won’t Stay Here.” But as strong as Franklin’s influence is, Cole never fails to sound like her own person. By the end of the 1970s, it was clear that Cole wasn’t a soul purist — and not surprisingly, she picked up a lot of adult contemporary and quiet storm fans along the way. But Inseparable (which Capitol reissued on CD in the early 1990s) is among Cole’s most soul-oriented albums, and it is also one of her most essential. (by Alex Henderson)

Natalie Cole (vocals)
a bunch of unknown studio musicians

Arranged by Richard Evans

01. Needing You (Jackson/Yancy) 2.45
02. Joey (Jackson/Yancy) 2.57
03. Inseparable (Jackson/Yancy) 2.26
04, I Can’t Say No (Jackson/Yancy) 3.30
05. This Will Be (Jackson/Yancy) 2.50
06. Something For Nothing (Jackson/Yancy) 2.57
07. I Love Him So Much (Jackson/Yancy) 3.24
08. How Come You Won’t Stay Here (Jackson/Yancy) 3.03
09. Your Face Stays In My Mind (Jackson/Yancy) 2.45
10, You (Jackson/Yancy/Butler) 3.32


NatalieCole02Natalie Cole (February 6, 1950 – December 31, 2015)

Singer Natalie Cole has passed away at the age of 65. The daughter of legendary crooner Nat King Cole, she is known for hits such as “This Will Be” and “Unforgettable.”