Nat King Cole – At The Sands
Available on backorder
LP, Album, Stereo, reissue
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 track—this 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.