Nat King Cole – Re: Generations (2009)

Nat King Cole - Re: Generations (2009)
Artist: Nat King Cole
Album: Re: Generations
Genre: Vocal Jazz
Origin: USA
Released: 2009
Quality: mp3, 320 kbps

Tracklist:
Lush Life (Cee-Lo)
Straighten Up and Fly Right (will.i.am & Natalie Cole)
Day In Day Out (Cut Chemist)
Brazilian Love Song (Michaelangelo L’Acqua & Bebel Gilberto)
The Game of Love (Nas & Salaam Remi)
Walkin’ My Baby Back Home (The Roots)
Hit That Jive, Jack (Souldiggaz & Izza Kizza)
Calypso Blues (Stephen & Damian Marley)
More and More of Your Amour (Bitter:Sweet)
El Choclo (Brazilian Girls)
Pick-up (Just Blaze)
Anytime Anyday Anywhere (Amp Fiddler)
Nature Boy (TV On The Radio)

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Remix or tribute albums are often stodgy affairs, where the work of the artist being celebrated becomes as rigid as if cast in stone, and any artists doing the celebrating check their creativity at the door. Re: Generations, which commemorates Nat King Cole with a work that’s half tribute album and half remix album, is a notable exception to this tendency. Not only does it feature a parade of talented names, but the artists make Cole’s standards as fluid as water (which the deft pianist and beguiling vocalist would undoubtedly appreciate). Certainly the guests are exactly the types of artists a modern-day Cole would be working with, everyone from the Roots to TV on the Radio to Bebel Gilberto. If anything, the celebrators were overly free with Cole’s work, modernizing it and portraying the man in a light that neither he nor his fans would perhaps appreciate. Cee-Lo Green could have done a marvelous job with “Lush Life,” rethinking it as a modern torch song better than anything Danger Mouse has covered. Still, about all we learn from his remix are two facts: “I was wrong” and “I’ll live a lush life.” Contrast that with the original, where the intricate poetry of the lyrics comes together with a definitive reading to form one of Cole’s most moving performances. Producer Just Blaze finds an obscure track called “Pick-Up,” and casts Cole as a drive-by womanizer, then adds new recordings to capture a modern female’s typical response. Others select atypical tracks — “Calypso Blues,” “El Choclo” — to put their own heavily personalized spin on the work of one of the great vocalists of the 20th century. Granted, there are several successes: the Roots modernize “Walkin’ My Baby Back Home” with a loose, dexterous instrumental (then tack on a rap from Black Thought), TV on the Radio take “Nature Boy” to the stars with heavy reverb applied to Cole’s vocal, and Detroit post-jazz producer Amp Fiddler explores what “Anytime, Anyday, Anywhere” would sound like in a post-fusion environment like the ’70s. Best of all is “Straighten Up and Fly Right,” where Natalie Cole duets with her father once more, this time with playful interplay and a wonderfully understated production from will.i.am that doesn’t sound conspicuously modern (and even finds room for a sprightly piano solo). As with all tribute albums, the best thing that could happen is if the fans of these artists go back to the original recordings rather than rely on crossover fusions that will become dated far sooner than the best of Nat King Cole’s 35 years of recordings.
Review by John Bush

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