The Incomparable Nat ''King'' Cole

Thirty-five years before his recent hit video ”duet” with daughter Natalie, Nat Cole starred in the first network variety series with a black host. On this virtually sponsorless and sadly short-lived TV show, The Incomparable Nat ”King” Cole, he never seemed entirely comfortable reading cue cards. Fortunately, he didn’t have many lines. He just looked into the camera and sang, accompanied variously by Nelson Riddle’s big band, Gordon Jenkins’ strings, his own trio, and guests. This 49-minute video is a compilation of 22 performances from that relaxed, tuneful program. Other than a couple of dogs (”You Are My First Love,” ”Raintree County”), the selection is a sensible mixture of hit ballads and jazzy swingers. Best are five numbers performed with an all-star jazz ensemble, including Coleman Hawkins, Stan Getz, the Oscar Peterson Trio, and, on a country & western tune (”With You on My Mind”), Flip Phillips and Illinois Jacquet. All in all this video compilation is fairly irresistible — except for the credit roll, in which the cheesy producers inexcusably identify themselves but not the musicians, songs, or songwriters. A-

The Incomparable Nat ''King'' Cole
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