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ALBUM REVIEW

A New Take on Nostalgic Collection : NATALIE COLE "Stardust" Elektra (***)

September 27, 1996|JEAN ROSENBLUTH

On her third foray into the standards songbook, Cole threatens to make a cottage industry of "dueting" with her late father Nat King Cole, splicing her smoky vocals onto his from the 1956 recording of "When I Fall in Love." (Her father also "plays" organ on Irving Berlin's snappy "Let's Face the Music and Dance.")

Macabre exploitation or loving tribute? Only Natalie knows for sure, but the selections here are so fabulously arranged and painstakingly executed that it's almost impossible to view them as anything other than a homage to the legacy of one of the greatest crooners of all time.

The array of talent here is formidable, from the musicians--among them George Duke and Wynton Marsalis--to such songwriters as Berlin, Marilyn and Alan Bergman and Jerome Kern. But the real stars are the arrangers, particularly jazz notables Johnny Mandel and Alan Broadbent. With an unerring precision cloaked in insouciance, they have crafted an album that is at once deliciously contemporary and warmly nostalgic.

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good), four stars (excellent).

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