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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke


THE KING COLE TRANSCRIPTIONS VOL 1
Recorded October / November 1938. Los Angeles
NAXOS - NAXOS JAZZ LEGENDS 8.120512

Crotchet
 

Nat 'King' Cole - piano  Oscar Moore - guitar    Wesley Prince - bass

1. Mutiny in the Nursery
2. F.D.R. Jones
3.The Sheik of Araby
4. The Blue Danube
5. Button, Button
6. Jingle Bells
7. Swanee River
8. With Plenty Of Money And You
9. Don't Blame Me
10.Lullaby in Rhythm
11.Dark Rapture
12.By The River Sainte-Marie
13. The Wiggly Walk
14. Flea Hop
15. Chopsticks
16. Patty Cake,Patty Cake
17. Blue Skies
18. Liza
19. Three Blind Mice
20. Caravan

This disc features the 21 year old Nat King Cole who was already a recording veteran of some 2 years. Here Cole performs with his recently formed classic trio made up of himself on piano, Oscar Moore on guitar and Wesley Prince on bass. The leader is the solo vocalist although the vast majority of the singing is by the trio en masse. The vocals, generally are in unison and go from the theme to rehearsed scat choruses which sometimes are harmonised.

The material on this recording runs from standards through alternative versions of classics and folk melodies to outright comedy triunes, often with a nursery rhyme basis. To anyone who is only familiar with Cole's later, commercial style this will seem very strange fare indeed.

Most of the pieces are quite heavily arranged and obviously were part of the trio's regular repertoire.There is not the looseness or freedom found in more modern jazz trios. Fifteen of the twelve tracks are vocal numbers, which for my ears is perhaps too high a proportion as the vocal style described earlier is somewhat "trite" and clever in nature. However this was the pop music of its day. I prefer Cole's later singing style away from the trio, but it is always good to hear his wonderful Hines-ish piano playing. It is easy to forget that within a few years of these recordings Cole was regularly winning poles as the outstanding pianist of the day.

It was pleasant to hear "Lullaby in Rhythm" and "Dark Rapture" again- these pieces are excellent but perhaps not as often played as other tunes from this era.

As one would expect the Level of musicianship is first class throughout. There are many outstanding moments from both the piano and the guitar.

In summarising I would recommend this disc both historically and musically - but would suggest it is better heard in parts than all at once.

Dick Stafford

D.S. is a professional reed player and teacher living in Coventry



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