The picture is not the album cover these two tunes are from–I seem to have lost the cover. The title of the cd is “Unforgettable” and was recorded in 1991. It is one of my favorite albums in my collection. The tunes are: “Thou Swell”, and “Almost Like Being In Love”.
I had the chance to work with Natalie in Dallas one night a few years after this cd came out, and we did these tunes, along with most of the other tunes on the cd. It was one of my favorite nights as a musician and I remember it very well.
Natalie brought her conductor, a lead trumpet player named Dave Trigg, and her rhythm section. They were all great to work with, which is how it should be. The better the musicians, the more they respect everyone else around them. It was all about playing great music that night.
Her rhythm section played together all the time, and it showed. It was one of the best I have ever played with and I just kept smiling at them all night. There is nothing better than a good bass player. He helps to set the pitch, since you always tune up from the bottom in any group, and he can do more to set the time than the drummer. He and I exchanged looks a few times that night, and he knew I loved what he was doing. I told him after the gig how great they sounded. He knew they were good, and he knew I knew something about music, too, to appreciate how well they played together. If their playing didn’t get you excited, you must be deaf. They appreciated coming into a town where the horn players could read music will and get it right the first time. We only had a short rehearsal that afternoon.
Listen to the rhythm section on the second tune. I’m pretty sure it’s the same rhythm section I worked with that night. The feel and sense of time from those guys is beautiful. That’s what you want from your rhythm section. That’s the heart beat of the band and if it’s not right, the horns won’t be right. It sounds like it locks into place when it is right. It comes from everyone listening to each other and playing a lot together. The rhythm section can’t be fighting each other over where the time is, they have to agree on where it is before you add anyone else.
Natalie Cole knows all of this, or she wouldn’t have the right musicians and writers working for her. It was a night I will never forget, and it was what I had worked for all my life. Those few nights when everything is right is what keeps you going and motivated. Listen to these two tunes—this is how it’s done.