The song itself originates from the musical “My Fair Lady” which we all know is an musical adaption of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmallion and will probably always be associated with Nat King Cole.
The funny thing about Nat King Cole is that people forget that he was a very good jazz pianist due to his success as a crooner, his crooner image no doubted helped by the vocal album he did with the Battersea born blind pianist George Shearing. This is the album which Cole’s famous recording of “Let There Be Love”, a song again famous in the UK thanks to an advert (for Bisto Gravy I think). Interestingly enough, in his autobiography “Lullaby of Birdland” George Shearing talks about the album and he mentions he thought that it would the medium-swing tempo “Pick Yourself Up” which would be the albums most popular song, he wryly admits how wrong he was.
Most Nat King Cole compilations these days focus on his later more commercial work and tend to ignore the Trio work of the 1940s which is a shame as those are very good records. While he sings on most of them he always plays a significant amount of piano on the tracks and he even composes a few numbers, “Straighten Up and Fly Right” being the most famous of his pieces. I think what illustrates the competence of the Nat King Cole trio is that it consists of Piano, Bass and Guitar, there is no drummer meaning that there is no room for coasting. The trio influenced a lot of future pianists including Ray Charles and Oscar Peterson, the later released an album called “With Respect to Nat” and I believe it is the only album on which Oscar Peters on sings! The similarity of Peterson’s voice to Cole is quite striking, while he doesn’t have the range of Nat it is a pleasant surprise.
However I think my favourite Nat Cole tribute album is by the Canadian Jazz singer/pianist Diana Krall released on the Impulse label and is called “All for You”, it features some lesser known Cole songs like “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”, “Errand Boy for Rhythm” (well it is femininised) and the titular track. More well known Cole songs feature such as “Frim Fram Sauce”, “Hit that Jive Jack” and “Gee, Baby Ain’t I Good to You”, it is a good album and I do believe it was the first Diana Krall I bought.