Volume Eight in the Classics Nat King Cole chronology follows his career from August 19, 1946 to July 2, 1947. By the summer of 1946 Cole was an exclusive Capitol recording artist and would remain so until his cigarette-induced death in 1965. As the postwar entertainment industry became increasingly obsessed with star vocalists, Nat King Cole's marvelously mellow voice proved to be intensely marketable. Echoes of Artie Shaw's sweet arrangements and a premonition of '50s production values occurred on what was actually Nat King Cole's second rendition of Mel Tormé's "Christmas Song" (recorded during a blistering August heat wave) with a string quartet plus harp added to a "trio" already enlarged to a quartet by the presence of drummer Jack "The Bear" Parker. Everything else on this compilation is played by the King Cole Trio, now serving more than ever as a backdrop for the voice of the leader. The only instrumentals are Cole's own "In the Cool of the Evening" (which sounds like a cousin to "Poinciana"), a gorgeous rumination on Jerome Kern's "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" and a thrilling jam on Fats Waller's "Honeysuckle Rose," presented as a sequel to the King Cole Trio's earlier version recorded for Decca on December 6, 1940.
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