What better way to ease into Christmas Eve than with Nat King Cole singing Unforgettable. The song written by Irving Gordon, according to Wikipedia was originally called Uncomparable (not Incomparable?) and was recorded by Cole in 1951 with an arrangement by Nelson Riddle. Here, he is accompanied by the Ted Heath Orchestra and throughout the session with his own sidemen: Reunald Jones, Trumpet, John Collins, Guitar, Charles Harris, Bass and Leon Petties, Drums.
Nat King Cole always seemed so relaxed with all the time in the world to express the lyric. Unfortunately only two years after this performance he died of lung cancer after a life of smoking. He would apparently chain smoke before a recording session because he thought it made his voice sound better.
Originally from Alabama he experienced terrible racism throughout his life but tried to stay clear of the controversy angering some as he seemed not to want to get involved in the fight. He was a musician not a politician, not an activist. He was also an accomplished jazz pianist and that voice, effortless, seductive, rich and expressive made him a household name. He appeared in films and was the first black artist to have his own TV show, controversial at the time. The show lasted a year but lack of funding and failure to find a national sponsor had the show come to an untimely end in 1957. Cole’s comment “Madison Avenue is afraid of the dark”.
His doctors told him to stop smoking but he didn’t listen and he died in his prime at the height of his career – he was just 45 years old.
If you would like to watch the whole show here it is – although beware of The Cliff Adams Singers!