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Ask a Woman Who Knows

Ask a Woman Who Knows

4.0 4
by Natalie Cole

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With hits on the pop, jazz, and R&B charts, vocalist Natalie Cole can choose the career path that suits her at the moment. For her past few releases she has chosen to follow in the footsteps of her father, the late Nat King Cole, giving songs a jazz reading but seldom straying from the popular appeal of '50s artists like Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington, and Ella


With hits on the pop, jazz, and R&B charts, vocalist Natalie Cole can choose the career path that suits her at the moment. For her past few releases she has chosen to follow in the footsteps of her father, the late Nat King Cole, giving songs a jazz reading but seldom straying from the popular appeal of '50s artists like Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington, and Ella Fitzgerald. On her first release for Verve, Cole comes straight out of the jazz standards tradition. The singer is backed by jazz players -- guitarist Russell Malone, bassist Christian McBride, drummer Lewis Nash, pianist Joe Sample, and, on two cuts, the Clayton-Hamilton Orchestra -- but Ask a Woman Who Knows is anything but standard. The songs are mostly obscure tunes, and each one fits her style and voice as if she’d been singing it for decades. The title cut, which suggests one of those trite “sista to sista” sessions that are often popular with female fans, is actually a heartbreaking account of a woman left lonely. Her only consolation is that other women have experienced the same feelings of being abandoned. Here Cole sounds almost shy, withdrawn until the end of the song, when she begins to soar through her pain. Cole is as comfortable with joy as she is with sorrow, and her voice is seductive and confident on Michael Frank’s come-on song “Tell Me All About It.” Set to an easy Latin beat with Malone’s guitar the lead instrument, the song heats up toward the end with strings accompanying Cole’s ecstatic scatting. Another fabulous interpretation is Cole’s version of Bob Telson’s “Calling You,” which was recorded by Javetta Steele for the Baghdad Café soundtrack. With Tollak Ollestad’s harmonica solo set among strings and electric keyboards, the song sounds as if it came from the Old West and landed in the middle of modern Los Angeles. It’s an electrifying experience. More in the vein of the usual standard delivery is Cole’s version of “It’s Crazy,” which her father recorded in 1952, and “My Baby Just Cares for Me,” which was written in 1930 and revived a few years back by Nina Simone. From the Funny Girl stage production Cole covers the lovely ballad “The Music That Makes Me Dance.” Also from the Broadway songbook is the Gershwins’ “Soon,” a love song that finds Cole swinging with the Clayton-Hamilton Orchestra. A delightful treat is Cole’s duet with label mate Diana Krall on “Better than Anything.” The two divas layer vocal licks like pieces of a snazzy new outfit, eventually convincing each other that love is even better than shopping. Cole seems not a bit threatened by Krall’s new popularity, and she has no need to be. Cole is in her prime as a jazz singer, soaring, sensuous, and open to new updates in the script for her role as a popular singer. Ask a Woman Who Knows is living proof of that.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Paula Edelstein
Natalie Cole is a fascinating vocalist who represents more than 30 years of worldwide critical acclaim, tremendous commercial success, the continuation of a family legacy, and consummate artistry. Her new dreams, ideas, and efforts unfold on Ask a Woman Who Knows, her debut for the Verve recording label and first recording in three years. Ms. Cole's musical choices include songs that depict the various aspects of love -- its joy, its sorrow, its loneliness, and its consolation. Included are two of Dinah Washington's gems -- "I Haven't Got Anything Better to Do" and the title track, "Ask a Woman Who Knows" -- both songs about love gone wrong. Cole changes the tone of the set with great scatting on the up-tempo swinger "My Baby Just Cares for Me"; "It's Crazy," the hit written by her father, Nat King Cole; and the soulful "I'm Glad There Is You," which features Roy Hargrove on flugelhorn. Natalie Cole sings her engaging musical stories with priceless, nuanced phrasing accompanied by a distinguished core quintet of Joe Sample, Russell Malone, Christian McBride, Lewis Nash, and Rob Mounsey. The added dimension of Natalie Cole performing all background vocals and the backing of the Clayton-Hamilton Orchestra on two songs makes the recording extra special. Overall, this is an exceptional recording that re-teams her with Tommy LiPuma, the producer of her biggest hit, Unforgettable: With Love. The listener who has followed her career will hear and understand that the consistency of all her exploring has been to arrive at a higher level of musical accomplishment through support from great musicians and a positive musical family.
Cole's first effort for Verve is easily her strongest since 1990's Unforgettable.

Product Details

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Natalie Cole   Primary Artist,Vocals
Alan Broadbent   Piano
Gary Foster   Alto Saxophone,Soloist
Jeff Hamilton   Drums
Roy Hargrove   Flugelhorn,Soloist
Rob Mounsey   Keyboards
Joe Sample   Piano
Russell Malone   Guitar
Lewis Nash   Drums
Larry Bunker   Percussion,Vibes
Collettes   Background Vocals
Christian McBride   Bass
Tollak Ollestad   Harmonica
John Pisano   Guitar
Terry Trotter   Piano
Diana Krall   Vocals
Luis Quintero   Percussion

Technical Credits

Natalie Cole   Executive Producer,Vocal Arrangements
Alan Broadbent   Orchestral Arrangements
Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra   Contributor
Rob Mounsey   Orchestral Arrangements
John Clayton   Orchestral Arrangements
John Hendrickson   Engineer
Tommy LiPuma   Producer
Elliot Scheiner   Engineer
Schmitt   Engineer
Bill Smith   Engineer
Hollis King   Art Direction
Steve Genewick   Engineer
Gail Deadrick   Advisor
Aya Takemura   Engineer
Sylvia Grieser   Wardrobe Design
Fields   Composer
Timmie Rodgers   Composer
Victor Abrams   Composer
Eliot Scheiner   Engineer

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Ask a Woman Who Knows 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This album is wonderful!! It mixes the smooth, sultry sounds of the bossanova and the quick, upbeat tunes of jazz and pop. Ask A Woman Who Knows is one of Natalie's best albums since the Unforgettable project. Natalie, keep up the GREAT work!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Natalie has again come through with a winner in her latest CD. I found it to be much more mellow than her previous "Snowfall On The Sahara", but did not come away disappointed. The number she performs with fellow singer Diana Krall is a riot! Great singing and great style from a great talent. Thank you again Natalie!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Natalie keeps getting better on every round. I'm looking forward to her next one. Keep the CD's coming. You're the best in my book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The 2nd cut is GREAT. "She" actually sounds enthusiastic and up-beat. The jazz is wonderful and refreshing (great piano work, Joe Sample!) Super arrangement, too! But that was the beginning and end of the album - for me. I tried to listen to several bars of a few more tunes but eventually "ejected". Too bad because I work very hard for very little money and this was a big disappointment! Thank you Michael Franks for a great tune. (The reason that I was attracted to the album in the first place!