Archive for January, 2016

Hail and Farewell!

Posted in On the State of the Union 2016, Playthell on politics with tags on January 20, 2016 by playthell
Barack Obama's last State of the Union -January 12, 2016
Barack’s Swan Song to Congress

 President Obama on the State of the Union

President Obama leaves the Washington scene as he entered: A brilliant and humane visionary promoting policies that will benefit Americans and the world.  In his final State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress, he has never been clearer or more forceful in stating that vision; indeed he was Solomonic in his wisdom about the human condition at the dawn of the twenty first century.

In an oration that combined a relaxed demeanor with soaring eloquence, he was both the gifted politician and erudite professor tutoring us on the facts of his achievements as President, which by any objective standard is a sterling record admired around the world, and presenting a detailed vision of where the nation must go now… what is to be done.

It is the task of this essay to conduct a content analysis of his presentation and consider some of the critical questions addressed by the President as the end of his historic presidency draws nigh; the full significance of which will be the subject of lively discussion among historians a hundred years hence.  Since journalism is considered “the first draft of history” by professional historians, this is my contribution to the discussion.

Barack was showered with kisses from the ladies as he made his way to the podium in the grand entrance that marks the opening of this annual Joint Session of Congress, convened for the special purpose of hearing the President report on the condition of our nation.  After a brief introduction by a stiff, stone faced, Paul Ryan – whose position as Speaker of the House required him to speak well of the President, although his demeanor was that of a circus performer who holds his nose and kisses a pig because it’s a critical part of his act – Obama began his report on the State of the Union.   With a bit of humor to break the ice, he quickly put the GOP reactionaries at ease by giving props to their Speaker.

It was textbook perfect, the way all the instructional manuals on public speaking tell you how to do it.  And it disarmed them, nullifying their hostilities for the moment.

Tonight marks the eighth year I’ve come here to report on the State of the Union. And for this final one, I’m going to try to make it shorter. I know some of you are antsy to get back to Iowa.” Said the president with a chuckle; referring to the presidential primary race.  Then he offered an olive branch to Speaker Ryan: “I also understand that because it’s an election season, expectations for what we’ll achieve this year are low. Still, Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the constructive approach you and the other leaders took at the end of last year to pass a budget and make tax cuts permanent for working families.”

Having acknowledged the rare occasion when Congressional members of the Grand Obstructionist Party worked constructively with him in conducting the people’s business as they were elected to do; the President optimistically noted,” So I hope we can work together this year on bipartisan priorities like criminal justice reform, and helping people who are battling prescription drug abuse. We just might surprise the cynics again.”  Hence in the space of eight and a half lines President Obama expressed humor, grace and hope; an excellent way to open a speech to a chamber half filled with venomous Republican adversaries spoiling for a fight.

The president went on to further demonstrate his mastery of political polemics by cleverly stating his agenda succinctly while disavowing his intent:

But tonight, I want to go easy on the traditional list of proposals for the year ahead. Don’t worry; I’ve got plenty, from helping students learn to write computer code to personalizing medical treatments for patients. And I’ll keep pushing for progress on the work that still needs doing: Fixing a broken immigration system; protecting our kids from gun violence; Equal pay for equal work; paid leave, raising the minimum wage. All these things still matter to hardworking families; they are still the right thing to do; and I will not let up until they get done.”

Having gotten his basic list of things to do in the short run on the record, the President assumed the role of visionary humanist, a role in which he excels over any previous occupant of the Oval Office.  And here, he was clear in his purpose. “But for my final address to this chamber, I don’t want to talk just about the next year. I want to focus on the next five years, ten years, and beyond. I want to focus on our future.”  President Obama pointed out that we are living in the most dynamic period in human history, a time when massive changes in the structure and function of human societies are changing at warp speed, and discussed the implications of this mass transformation in human societies:

 “We live in a time of extraordinary changechange that’s reshaping the way we live, the way we work, our planet and our place in the world. It’s change that promises amazing medical breakthroughs, but also economic disruptions that strain working families. It promises education for girls in the most remote villages, but also connects terrorists plotting an ocean away. It’s change that can broaden opportunity, or widen inequality. And whether we like it or not, the pace of this change will only accelerate.”

As with much of what he had to say in his final State of the Union speech, this astute analysis was clearly directed at the “conservative” anti-science, racist, sexist, Neanderthals in the Grand Obstructionist Party; those deluded “American Exceptionalists” who think they can arrest progress by ignoring the revelations of science and who seek refuge in comfortable myths about “the good old days” when men were men, families were modeled after Adam and Eve  “not Adam and Steve,” God was on America’s side, father knew best and white was right!  Those sad old white who folks go around muttering about “taking our country back!”  To these lost souls Barack offered the following dose of reality:

“America has been through big changes beforewars and depression, the influx of immigrants, workers fighting for a fair deal, and movements to expand civil rights. Each time, there have been those who told us to fear the future; who claimed we could slam the brakes on change, promising to restore past glory if we just got some group or idea that was threatening America under control. And each time, we overcame those fears. We did not, in the words of Lincoln, adhere to the “dogmas of the quiet past.” Instead we thought anew, and acted anew. We made change work for us, always extending America’s promise outward, to the next frontier, to more and more people. And because we didbecause we saw opportunity where others saw only perilwe emerged stronger and better than before. What was true then can be true now. Our unique strengths as a nationour optimism and work ethic, our spirit of discovery and innovation, our diversity and commitment to the rule of lawthese things give us everything we need to ensure prosperity and security for generations to come.”

Witnessing the upbeat character of Barack’s presentation, the careful observer could not miss the difference between his heroic optimism regarding America’s potential and the grim visage and defeatist body language of the Republican members of Congress. These people, who never tire of referencing Ronald Reagan as their patron saint, had allowed Barack Obama to claim the high ground and announce the coming of new morning in America.  Furthermore, unlike Reagan, who was painting pictures of a glorious future that he was promising to bring into being, Barack Obama was referencing the forces of progress that he had already unleashed by virtue of his policies.  Actual deeds…not mere words, accomplishments not empty braggadocio. I hope the Democratic presidential candidates were paying close attention, because herein lies the formula for victory in the coming Presidential election.  They must not repeat the folly of Al Gore by not claiming Barack’s victories and Democratic victories and running on them.

Indeed, the most powerful part of the president’s speech was when he claimed his record and stood on it; a magnificent record of achievement that no Republican President can match save perhaps Abraham Lincoln, who presided over a very different Republican Party.  Alas, the only connection the present generation of Republicans has to Lincoln is their fondness for LincolnContinentals,which would have gone the way of the dinosaurs and ceased to exist if not for the bold intervention of President Obama to save the US auto industry….a move which the Grand Obstructionist Party vigorously opposed!

This is irrefutable evidence that the Grand Obstructionist Party cannot govern; addicted to a “free market” theology which allowed Wall Street to go wild with reckless financial schemes, they wrecked the economy and then did everything they could to obstruct President Obama’s policies for preventing a worldwide depression and restoring a dying economy to health, for their picayune partisan reasons.  This is a matter of historical fact.

As if striking a dagger through the heart of his Republican antagonists and twisting it, or breaking his foot off in their ass – President Obama recited the undeniable achievements of his Administration:

Let me start with the economy, and a basic fact: the United States of America, right now, has the strongest, most durable economy in the world. We’re in the middle of the longest streak of private-sector job creation in history. More than 14 million new jobs; the strongest two years of job growth since the ’90s; an unemployment rate cut in half. Our auto industry just had its best year ever. Manufacturing has created nearly 900,000 new jobs in the past six years. And we’ve done all this while cutting our deficits by almost three-quarters.”

Then he provided the raw numbers as evidence of the scope of the progress that has occurred under his leadership, which are staggering:

I-14.1 million new private sector jobs over 70 straight months of jobs growth

II – The unemployment rate is lower than it’s been in more than 7 years

III – The deficit has been cut by nearly three fourths since 2009

IV – American manufacturers have added nearly 900,000 jobs over the past 6 years

After citing the evidence to the contrary the Prez declared with a snide and defiant smile – what hip black folk call an IDGAF – I don’t give A F….! – Smile, declared: “Anyone claiming that America’s economy is in decline is peddling fiction.” Yet despite his recitation of these impressive statistics measuring economic progress, President Obama is not claiming that we have reached an economic Nirvana, nor does he make any attempt to fudge the facts about the economic challenges facing the American people in the future.

Rather, in characteristic fashion, and to his credit,  he not only enumerates the major problems but offer solutions to them that could be implemented as policy if his adversaries were as enlightened, compassionate and well intentioned as himself.  Finding the solutions to complex problems starts with asking the right questions and I believe that the President summed up the major problems facing the US in four questions:

“First, how do we give everyone a fair shot at opportunity and security in this new economy? Second, how do we make technology work for us, and not against usespecially when it comes to solving urgent challenges like climate change? Third, how do we keep America safe and lead the world without becoming its policeman? And finally, how can we make our politics reflect what’s best in us, and not what’s worst?”

The reader can hear the President’s full speech simply by clicking on the link at the bottom of this essay; it was one of the best speeches that I have heard from an American President, and I would bet my bottom dollar that it is one of the greatest State of the Union orations in American history.

The stony silence of the Republicans, in the face of such a magnificent record of achievement against tremendous odds – restoring the economy and ending to protracted wars overseas, salvaging the lives of young people who were being physical and mentally devastated in a criminal Republican war of choice, ending the hemorrhage of American blood and treasure – exposed them as morally deformed empty ideologues.

All but the ignorant and evil could readily see that the Republicans are intellectual and moral midgets compared to the president.  Of course, beyond the ideological stance they have taken, and are held accountable for by the untutored mob that is their base, they couldn’t applaud President Obama’s accomplishments because they were achieved in spite of the persistent and disloyal opposition of the Republicans.  Hence Barack’s achievements signal the failure of these partisan efforts; short sighted amoral folly has placed the fate of the earth second to their political ambitions – evil on steroids!

The careful observer, who could identify the principal players in the tragic political comedy of errors that masquerades as serious politics among Republicans, could not fail to be intrigued trying to read the facial expressions and body language of Congressman Paul Ryan, the Republican Speaker of The House, as he introduced the President to the Nation before he spoke, and all during his brilliant and moving hour long speech.

Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address
Barack Obama and Ryan What’s on Ryan’s Mind?

For much of the speech Ryan looked like he was fighting the urge to poop in his pants.  For among the things he was surely thinking is that he must not anger his racist yahoo base by appearing to show a proper respect for the “Nigger” in the White House.  Yet Ryan is no fool, and thus like all vain men who know they will one day be evaluated by impartial historians that will have the last word about their official legacy, he wants to conduct himself in ways that will not prohibit historians being kind to him.  After all, his grandchildren will one day read their books, and he doesn’t want them hiding their faces in shame when they learn that he obstructed efforts to prevent climate change.

Furthermore, there were so many brilliant ideas and bright moments of extraordinary insights in President Obama’s speech that Ryan could not resist marveling at his mastery of the art of political oratory in much the same way that saxophone players responded when they heard Charlie “Yardbird” Parker play. No matter what they said about his playing, and many felt genuinely threated because Bird was assaulting their conventional wisdom about how Jazz was to be played and making them sound obsolete, in their hearts they knew he was their superior and the music he was playing was the sound of the future!

Congressman Ryan is a practicing Catholic, and as such he is taught that the Pope is infallible in his judgements; he has even tried to claim that his backward ideas about economic policy are rooted in catholic teaching. Yet the Pope has rejected Ryan’s ideas and embraced those of President Obama’s!  This is because, as was noted in the Huffington Post in an essay by Reverend John Pavlovitz, “Rather than being the kind of showy, loud but largely loveless noise in the world that the Apostle Paul warns believers against becoming, the President’s time in the White House has yielded the kind of tangible fruit Jesus said would be the mark of the true person of God.”

The Reverend proceeds to enumerate the president’s deeds, which are always more credible than mere words; anybody can talk a good game. But as Reverend Pavlovitz shows: Barack Obama walks the walk, rather than just talk the talk, like those verbose bible thumping Republicans who rarely practice what they preach.  Unless he is a complete lying hypocrite, to be rejected by his spiritual father in favor of a man that his party denies is even a Christian, has to trouble Ryan deep in his soul.

Ryan would also love to be President, but when he ran as Vice President to Mitt Romney they were roundly defeated by Obama.  Hence no matter what stance he is compelled to take publicly, in his heart and mind he cannot but wish that he had Obama’s political gifts.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Ryan announced that he was switching parties, after former Speaker of the House John Boehner quit his office and left Congress after a private audience with the Pope on his visit to Washington!

Although I advance this only as a suspicion: I believe the Pope told Boehner that he was risking having his immortal soul confined to hell if he continued his nefarious deeds, placing the imperatives of the plutocrats over the injunction of Jesus Christ to “feed the hungry and heal the sick” by cutting food stamps and trying to repeal Obamacare.  That would explain why a man at the pinnacle of power high-tailed it out of that decadent evil Babylon which is the Republican-controlled Congress, and the “Weeper of the House” has not been heard from since.

Perhaps Ryan, who often strikes me as the personification of the Devil, will have an epiphany and see the error of his ways. He sure looked like he was experiencing some sort of internal crisis as he listened to President Obama’s speech which, after all, contained both enlightened ideas and indisputable truths. But that hope was dashed after reading Ryan’s comments to USA Today following the speech Ryan said:

“I thought it was a fairly typical speech for the president,” Ryan said.  “Apparently ISIS is a bunch of guys riding around in trucks and a picture of a good foreign policy is Syria. I think he glossed over the economy. I think he glossed over our foreign-policy failures.” Later he said, “That’s the kind of speech he gives these days, and I think it really is divorced from reality.”

The obvious question raised by that comment is: Can the Speaker of the House be as childish and stupid as he sounds?  I believe that Ryan, like all of the spineless opportunists terrified of the wrath of their backward base, plays to the prejudices of these impassioned morons…yet in his heart and mind he does know better. The truth be told they all know better, but the Republicans that presently control Congress cannot admit it, because the only weapon they have to combat the outsized legacy of President Obama, a legacy of monumental achievements on behalf of the American people that cannot be factually refuted, is to cultivate the the blind hatred of the untutored racist mob that is their base.

Keeping that base ignorant and angry is especially critical just now, when the Presidential election is only months away.  Although the Republicans have painted themselves into a corner with these hysterical mooks they are fundamental to the fulfilment of the GOP agenda; a pro-plutocrat anti-worker, anti-woman program.

Hence they must fire up “low information voters” so that their passions will overwhelm reason and prevent the election of another Democratic president who will defend and extend the progressive policies of President Obama.  However Barack envisions another America; it is a vision filled with the heroic optimism that put him in the oval office twice.  He sums up his vision at the end of this oratorical tour de force thusly:

“…. the America I know….the country we love. Clear-eyed, big-hearted, optimistic that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word. That’s what makes me so hopeful about our future. Because of you. I believe in you. That’s why I stand here confident that the State of our Union is strong.”

Chilly B is still heads and shoulders above his opponents!
President Barack Obama takes a shot during a game with Cabinet Secretaries and Members of Congress on the White House basketball court, Oct. 8, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.
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Double Click on Link to hear the President’s State of the Union

https://youtu.be/nwpR6YfgUYU

 

Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
1/20/2016

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Double Click on Link to hear the President’s State of the Union

Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
January 14, 2016

Round Bout Midnight at Berta’s Place

Posted in Photo-Essays with tags , on January 9, 2016 by playthell
Cover Pic
 The Watchman Counts down to 2016

Swinging in the New Year at Berta’s

 New York City is the most exciting place in the world on New Year’s Eve.  People come from all over the world to ring in the New Year, and every musician worth is song has a gig.  In the decades that I have resided in this marvelous city I have attended many fine parties in different parts of the city – although I was always in Manhattan when the clock struck midnight – and for several years I gave some pretty exciting parties that attracted interesting people from all over.

I have even swung the New Year in down at Dizzy’s Coca Cola Club nestled in Jazz at Lincoln Center – see “Swinging in the New Year at Dizzy’s Club.” But for the last few years I have swung in the New Year at Berta’s Place on Riverside Drive in Harlem, where a stylish crowd of black New Yorkers that include business people, artist, thespians, and esthetes gather to be serenaded by some of New York City’s finest musicians…..and they play straight ahead Jazz!

It is a wonderful communal effort where once the rhythm section begins to swing, any instrumentalists can contribute to the fun.  On this evening there was a variety of singers and instrumentalist that took their turn, but the highlight was the performance of two of Harlem’s Jazz Kings: tenor saxophonists Patience Higgins and Bill Saxon, who owns a Jazz club in Harlem.

Berta’s daughter, co-host of the fete, is a wonderful singer; decked out in passionate red, she looked like an ebony goddess as she took the mike, struck up the band, and anointed us with a soul serenade.  We swung in the New Year with pizazz!  Here are some of my visual impressions of that beautiful bash.

It was all Blues!
At Berta's Party - Daughter
She Sings Real Jazz!
Tenor Madness!

At Berta's Paty III

They really got Down!

A Piano Man

This Piano Man always makes the Party!
The Congero was in the Pocket

At Berta's Party II

The lively Rhythms…
Made folks face the Music…

DSCN9918

…..and do a Jazz Dance!
Others made beautiful Music

At Bertha's Party with Melodica

On Exotic Instruments
And the band Played On
Cover III -Saxson
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 Some folks were Clean as the Board of Health!

A elegant Man at Berta's II

Le Chic!

Whether they were Fly….

 At Bertha's [arty couple

Or Chic…
A Brown Fox at berta's
Folks were decked Out

At Bertha's part gele

Some wore Afro-Centic Styles
Old School Cool

A Sharp Couple

Ruled!
  There were lovely, stylish Women Evertwhere

A Silver focx at Berta's

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At Berta's Party redbone

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Cover Beauty

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Cover Black Beauty

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A pianist at Berta's

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DSCN9834

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At Berta's Party IV

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DSCN9760

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At Bertha and Daughter

Like Mother….Like Daughter!

 It was a great place to greet the New Year

At Berta's Party

It has great Atmosphere
And you get to hang with out with Stars….

Admola at Berta's

Like the Internationall Renowned Artist / enterprenuer Ademola

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Click on link to see Bill Saxon

Patience Higgins at Harlem’s famous Lennox Lounge
https://youtu.be/qHgLK8bnj84
Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
New Years, 2016

Angel On My Shoulder

Posted in On Natalie Cole with tags , , on January 3, 2016 by playthell
Natalie Cole
Natalie Cole: Singing with Soul

The Triumphs and Tragedies of Natalie Cole

 I cannot remember a time when the silky voice of Nat King Cole was not crooning somewhere in the background – Mona Lisa, Sentimental Reasons, The Christmas Song, Nature Boy, It’s Only A Paper Moon, When I fall In Love, Straighten Up and Fly Right, etc, the sound tracks of my life.  That’s why when I learned that his daughter Natalie was one of the students in my class at the University of Massachusetts, I was surprised and elated.  Having the daughter of Nat King Cole under my tutelage was something really special.  Perhaps, I thought, I could repay Nat for the many pleasures he had provided me by helping to shape his daughters view of the world in a way that revealed the heroism and beauty of her heritage as an African American.

Little did I know that she understood next to nothing of that heritage because of the way she was raised, and that being the daughter of old king Cole was a burden as well as a blessing to a young black woman trying to define herself in a competitive society with a racist white majority.  Natalie was smart and charming and appeared to be unpretentious and well adjusted.

That’s why I watched in surprised horror when she started doing drugs, careening down the road to self-destruction in a misguided quest to become authentically “black.”  Tragically, her idea of being black was fashioned by the decadent values of the urban lumpen-prolitariat from whom a colorful element of the black student population was recruited, the “field niggers” who had been celebrated by Malcolm X, valorized by the Black Panther Party of Oakland, and glamoried by “Superfly” and other black gangster movies that were popular in this period.

The fact that Malcolm X had no clue what he was talking about – since he was spouting mythology not history – and it was really the “house negroes” who actually organized all of the slave revolts everywhere in the Americas, renders Natalies more tragedy than farce.  Having no reference point for understanding the kind of highly privileged life she had led, I was puzzled by her apparent need to be “down” with some of the fastest and unsavory elements among the students from the inner-cities of Boston and Springfield; some of whom where obviously dead end kids.

In her new autobiography “Angel On my Shoulder” Natalie takes us into her privileged childhood, which was as different from the average black child’s in America – or white ones for that matter – as a fairytale is from the real world.  It was a life of gated communities, grand mansions, exclusive private schools, and lavish parties with some of the biggest names in American show biz, along with their mostly rich white friends.

However it was also a life as part of a family with a loving but absentee father and an emotionally remote, social climbing, materialistic mother who thought it more important to tag along behind her husband criss crossing the globe than to stay at home and raise her five children, two of whom were adopted.  On more than one occasion in this text Natalie laments the fact that her mother was not “more nurturing.’

Afro-American Royalty
The wedding cake
The Marriage of Nat and Maria Cole

Without pulling any punches, Natalie chronicles her fall from affluence and respectability and descent into the surreal world of drug addiction, where her new runnin partners were whores, thieves, dope dealers and assorted felons from the Springfield projects. In this predatory world she began to print and cash bogus checks.

Speaking of the prostitute who had befriended her when she first got strung out on heroin at the beginning of her singing career, Natalie tells us, “Peaches took it upon herself to instruct me in the fine art of extracting welfare checks out of folk’s mailboxes. When I turned out to be useless as a thief, Peaches found me another assignment: counterfeiting and check fraud.  I mean, why bother stealing checks when you could just print your own?”  And she continued to do just that, until “Big Al,” a black detective in Springfield, where she had moved after leaving Amherst, busted her.

The detective recognized her and let her walk after interrogating her about her career criminal friends, then giving her a stern warning to change her ways before somebody ended her days.  She would later view Big Al as one of several “Angels” who would intervene in her life when she was in a life-threatening crisis.  In fact, this is the major theme of the book.

Natalie got out of Springfield all right, but she was still carrying that monkey on her back.  And it would ride her into the ground on several occasions until she finally decided to straighten up and fly right, seeking medical treatment for her drug addiction.  But before she would finally clean up and kick drugs altogether, after a six month confinement in Hazelden, an exclusive drug treatment center, she would go from weed, to LSD, to heroin, to crack.  It was a tragic journey that lasted 20 years?

In the process she went through two failed marriages and a succession of bad relationships.  She became estranged from her mother and ruined many friendships of a business and personal nature. Miraculously, she wrecked her career and, like the Phoenix, rose from the ashes and soared again.  She would have a record setting night at the Grammies for her tribute album to her father “Unforgettable,” a beautiful work of art.

The most interesting part of this book is Natalie’s discussions of making music, especially her descriptions of the working styles and personalities of the many talented arrangers, composers, lyricists, studio musicians and record producers with whom she collaborated to make her many hit records.  Also of great interest are her cameo portraits of the many great performing artists and other powerful persons who were friends of her father’s.  It was a virtual who’s who of American show business that included Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Danny Thomas, Sammy Davis Jr. Jack Benny, et al.  Jack Kennedy was also a good friend, and even showed up at her sister’s coming out party.

Strangely, however, while Natalie pays generous kudos to her father’s singing, virtually nothing is said about the fact that he was also a great pianist. Yet the King Cole Trio is one of the seminal trios in the history of jazz.  This fact was also overlooked in the recent Ken Burns PBS television series “Jazz.”  And stranger still, in all of the criticisms heaped on that path breaking series, none, to my knowledge, and I read a truck load of them, mentioned the omission of Nat “King” Cole, in spite of the fact that he was selected as the pianist in several all-star bands.  Regarding his proper place in the music, it is enough to say that he elaborated on the style of the great Earl “Fatha” Hines.

Nathaniel Cole: Virtuoso Pianist
Nat_King_Cole_(Gottlieb_01511)
A Great Pianist who found Fame and Fortune as a Crooner

In the end however, what we have in “Angel On my Shoulder” is another sad tale of a tragic girl singer.  Much about Natalie Cole’s story brings to mind the self- destructive sagas of Billy Holliday and Judy Garland.  The difference however is that Natalie began her life in wealth and privilege, and she has beat her drug habit and is living a drug free existence.

Furthermore she is presently enjoying a thriving career, having recently won the NAACP Image Award for best female actress over great thespians like Loretta Devine and Candy Alexander, who played a notorious junkie in the critically acclaimed HBO series “The Corner.”  It was an award however which she correctly admitted that she did not deserve in her acceptance speech.

However, like Lady Day, Natalie Cole seems doomed to have serious man troubles for the rest of her life, despite the fact that she is looking fine these days and is holding grand theft dough.  But, sadly, she sounds as if she is a candidate for the convent in the final chapter of her autobiography, as she swears off men and seeks satisfaction in a relationship with Jesus.

Yet at the end of the book I find myself wondering, as with every tell all text of this genre, what motivates people to publish the tawdry details of their lives.  However I am of mixed feeling about it, my ambivilance in the fact that for the historian, and student of history, such revelatory texts are pearls of great price; despite the fact that professional historians view such self-authored text with a jaundiced eye and counsel against taking them as the final statement on the course and significance of an important life.

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 To See performances double click on links below
Nat Singing  “Unforgettable” 
https://youtu.be/Fy_JRGjc1To
Natalie and Nat sining “Unforgettable”
https://youtu.be/MKCyUe4syc4
Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
Janurary 3, 2016
**Originally Published, November 2000