Ori Dagan, an award-winning jazz singer and composer, has undertaken the work of Nat “King” Cole for his latest album, “Nathaniel: A Tribute to Nat King Cole,” which was released Nov. 3, 2017. Dagan’s gentle, respectful and artful take on the life of the jazz great. The album is comprised of a mix of original and cover tunes that represent facets of the singer’s life.
About Ori Dagan
“Nathaniel: A Tribute to Nat “King” Cole,” is Dagan’s third album. His first album, 2009’s “S’Cat Got My Tongue,” seems appropriate because of the scat skills he displays on the current album. He followed the 2009 release with 2012’s “Less Than Three <3.”
Dagan’s work is critically acclaimed. Not only for his scatting, but also for the quality of his baritone voice and his humor. Dagan’s song, “Googlable” is an ode to a search engine. In the same vein, he has crafted a song for the rhythmically challenged, “Clap on the 2 and the 4.”
In addition, Dagan has won “Best Educational Jazz Short,” at the first New York City Jazz Film Fest, and “Best Children’s Song” at the Hollywood Songwriting Contest.
In the same vein as his jazz shorts, Dagan has created “Nathaniel…” as a visual album. The musical CD is released at the same time as 12 videos on YouTube via Dagan’s channel.
Dagan explains why he has chosen to explore Cole’s work. Essentially, 2019 marks Cole’s 100th birthday. Dagan expresses that he thinks people have taken for granted how talented Cole was. Dagan says, “I was completely surprised by his forays into Spanish, Japanese, French and Italian, and the way he effortlessly and honestly delivered any song.”
Dagan translates that ease of delivery into his own work. The fluidity of the singer’s voice is much like that of Cole’s. While no one is a perfect imitator of Cole, and it does not seem that Dagan is setting out to merely “imitate,” there are qualities of “Nathaniel…” that call to mind mental images of the late crooner.
Best of the soundscape
“Nature Boy” and “Straighten Up and Fly Right,” are probably the standout tracks on the album, although all are good. These two standards by Cole are oft-covered, and thereby the most popular, and it is interesting to see what Dagan does with them.
“Straighten Up and Fly Right” has a crisp narrative and a dynamic texture added by the inclusion of vocalist, Sheila Jordan. Here, both Dagan and Jordan engage in fun-loving scat toward the end. The music swings smoothly and invites listeners to dance, or just listen. It is smooth and classic jazz.
Dagan’s abilities on “Nathaniel: A Tribute to Nat “King” Cole” are clear and he uses them to each song’s advantage. To get the full effect, listeners should visit Dagan’s YouTube Channel.
“Nathaniel…” is an engaging, interesting album that pays tribute to a singer that it seems people never tire of hearing about.