Sunday, March 17, 2019

Nat "King" Cole, pianist

In this week of jazz centennials (Mercer Ellington on the 11th, George Avakian on the 15th, Lennie Tristano on the 19th), today we celebrate Nat "King" Cole's. He was a great singer, especially given his limited resources and a popular entertainer. He was also a terribly influential pianist—Lennie Tristano and Hank Jones certainly listened to him—who helped establish the piano trio, albeit with a guitar instead of drums, the format Oscar Peterson, another Cole fan, maintained until mid-1959.

Cole recorded a lot with his trio, both for commercial release (for Decca, and later Capitol) and for radio broadcast (or transcriptions). Among the latter, there is a recording called "Miss Thing", effectively a reduction to the trio of the Count Basie Orchestra side "Miss Thing (Part II)", which shows a lesser known aspect of Cole's musicianship.

Basie's "Miss Thing (Part II)" (early 1939)

Cole's "Miss Thing" (late 1943)

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