Adam Gopnik Praises STRAIGHTEN UP AND FLY RIGHT: The Life and Music of Nat King Cole by Will Friedwald

Nat Cole is still such an ineffably engaging singer that it is easy to forget just how protean and important a musician he was -- originating new styles of be-bop-to-modern jazz piano; creating with his trio a template for  R&B; renewing the American song book in its eclipse; becoming one of the first true cross-over artists, and not least, ending as a quiet hero of the civil rights movement. Artists as different as Bill Evans, Chuck Berry, and Sam Cooke all owe him an incalculable debt. Will Friedwald's biography captures each of these faces of Cole, and does so with a delightful mix of scholarly dedication and interpretive verve. This is certainly the best book that anyone will write about Nat King Cole.

Adam Gopnik has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1986, and is the author of Paris to the Moon and At the Stranger’s Gate: Arrivals in New York, among others.

Straighten Up and Fly Right: The Life and Music of Nat King Cole will be published in June 2020 by Oxford University Press.

Will Friedwald writes about music and popular culture for The Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair,  Playboy magazine and other publications (and reviews current shows for Citiview). He also is the author of nine books including the award-winning A Biographical Guide To The Great Jazz And Pop Singers; The Great Jazz And Pop Vocal Albums; Sinatra: The Song Is You, A Singer’s Art; Stardust Melodies: A Biography of Twelve of America’s Most Popular Songs; Tony Bennett: The Good Life; Looney Tunes & Merrie Melodies; and Jazz Singing. He has written over 600 liner notes for compact discs, received ten Grammy nominations, and appears frequently on television and other documentaries. He is also a consultant and curator for Apple Music. 

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