Nat King Cole could charm most listeners by simply singing a few lines from the phone book. His delivery is so intoxicating that even less-than-stellar material doesn't cause so much as a blink of the eye. This is true with Classics' collection of some of his 1947-1949 cuts, where hardly a classic standard or hit is in sight. What one does get, though, is a generous dose of Nat Cole and the trio's slow-riffin' best . While ranging from the ballad perfection of "How Lonely Can You Get" and "Lost April" to svelte blues sides like "My Mother Told Me," Cole, guitarist Irving Ashby, and bassist Johnny Miller show how they perfected the piano trio template forged by the singer's first group with guitarist Oscar Moore and bassist Wesley Prince. The disc also includes two boppish instrumentals: "Leap Here" and "Metronome Riff," featuring Cole with large combos stuffed with likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Buddy DeFranco, Bob Cooper, Art Pepper, Bill Harris, and Shelly Manne. Also included are two takes of "Portrait of Jennie," an early strings affair that nicely foreshadows Cole's symphonic run of hits in the '50s. This disc might not work too well as a prime introduction to the the Nat Cole Trio's '40s material -- check out Capitol's Vocal Classics titles for that -- but it certainly will please fans wanting to delve beyond the more popular tracks. And for those keen on getting a good share of Cole's instrumental and jazz-centric sides, check out Capitol's Instrumental Classics and Jazz Encounters collections.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Cook