Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Looks like the Illfolks blog is going to be the first to lead Captain Crawlers to Double N, Nanette Natal. You'll no longer do a query and get asked about "Pata Pata." Nanette swapped a promising career as Vanguard's new Baez for the life of a blues artist and jazz singer on an indie label.

Natal's major label debut was Psych-Folk or Folk-Rock…or some other term critics hadn't yet worked their ink-stained fingers around. The title track, "Yesterday Today Tomorrow" was a staccato dip into the gene pool of Middle Eastern/Ethnic music, string quartet as well as folk and rock. Other tracks sifted through the haze of post-hippie nature themes and hard city realities, but unlike Vanguard's favorite femme Joan Baez, Nanette's vocals had a lot less yodel and were much easier for the average listener to take. That is, if the average listener knew the album was around.

Next stop on the evolutionary ladder for Nanette was an album for the Evolution label, where their big seller was probably Jack Benny narrating clips from old-time radio. If few heard the late 60's and early 70's Nanette on record, she was well known on the local New York scene, playing the Bitter End, and turning up on bills with Odetta and Bonnie Raitt. She even performed on "The Today Show" (back in those Hugh Downs/Barbara Walters days).

Ms. Natal, who started as a classical singer learning her lessons at the Helen Hayes Young People's Theater Guild, edged away from folk and began to gravitate to jazz standards. She found her own song writing more strongly influenced by dark blues and ethnic rhythms. She formed her own record label, Benyo, and gave herself the artistic freedom to release eight albums while touring the club circuit.

While she's left psych-folk behind, her lone Vanguard album is kind of classic in its way, and you'll find a few cuts down below to discover for yourself. Natal's website has been dormant of late, with the ambitious, dark and driven 8 minute "I Must be Dreaming" (2007) listed as her most current recording. The track sounds like something spawned by Nina Simone and Victor Jara. A September 2009 gig at a Bleecker Street club is listed as her most current concert appearance. Maybe she's just too busy to mess with Internet updates. After all, check these glowing reviews:

"An accomplished scat singer with a vocal range that allows her to execute complicated or demanding phrases with polish and assurance...Miss Natal bends and twists her notes in unexpected fashions, makes startling leaps around the scales, and has the daring to expand and extend...a satisfactory note to open up a fresh and revealing color." - The New York Times.
"…Nanette Natal could easily coast on her impressive range, but she doesn't; instead she takes intrepid sojourns from slick jazz into blues and soul..." - TimeOut New York.
"Nanette Natal has an instrumental voice both feline and savage...plus she can scat without imitating anyone else--quite rare isn't it?" - Jazz Hot, France.
"…One of the most sensitive performers around. Natal’s truly impressive vocal range is, perhaps, what first-time listeners notice...Nanette Natal demonstrates the art of the ballad...favorably compared with the late Sarah Vaughan. Very, very classy!" - Jazz Review

Here's the opening two tracks from the Vanguard album: "Yesterday Today Tomorrow" segueing into "Paradoxical Maze."



R. Ayers said...

Nanette has a new album out on her own Benyo Productions label. It's called "Blue Summer Blue" and features a couple of excellent jazz tunes along with some more twangy-sounding stuff. Check it out! -Namlit, September 2011

Astrology said...

Thanks for the article.