Nat King Cole

1949

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This thirteenth volume in the Classics Nat King Cole chronology gathers together all of his Capitol recordings made between March 22 and August 2, 1949. As one of Capitol's star attractions, Cole was now interacting with other musicians from the label's variegated roster of talent. Although the phrase 'King Cole Trio' was still appearing in print, Cole, his guitarist Irving Ashby and bassist Joe Comfort, now joined by bongo and conga drummer Jack Costanzo, were surrounded at times by an orchestra -- loaded with strings -- led by Pete Rugolo. This was actually a direct result of Stan Kenton having disbanded in December 1948. Exhausted and ill, Kenton wouldn't record again with his monster band until February 1950. Rugolo was Kenton's right-hand man and Costanzo was an essential component in the Kenton orchestra's Latin American percussion section. With Kenton in temporary retirement, the A&R directors at Capitol started combining talent, and that's how during the year 1949 the 'King Cole Trio' began to sound like an adjunct of the Stan Kenton orchestra. While the trio/quartet sides maintain a decent level of artistic integrity the larger ensembles, together with sugared group choral backgrounds by Alyce King's Vokettes and The Starlighters (also known by the cutesy name "Four Hits and a Miss") seemed to be announcing the arrival of that golden era of over-sweetened pop vocals, the 1950s.

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