Nat King Cole

Cool Cole: The King Cole Trio Story

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The title of this four-CD box rights a pervasive wrong concerning Nat King Cole's career: although he's now known primarily as a singer of jazzy pop ballads, Cole was first and foremost a gifted jazz pianist, and his best and longest-lasting group was the King Cole Trio, with guitarist Oscar Moore and bassist Wesley Prince (replaced by Johnny Miller in 1942). They were his primary collaborators from 1937 until his late-'40s crossover to the pop scene and solo stardom with the oddball hit "Nature Boy," his first recording with full orchestral backing. That song is on here in all its cracked majesty, but the majority of these 104 songs are in Cole's original style: simple jazz piano trio recordings, both with vocals and without. All of Cole's early hits are here, along with a wide variety of relative rarities like the hot swing of "Jumpin' at Capitol" and a rollicking instrumental version of the standard "How High the Moon." Cool Cole: The King Cole Trio Story puts Nat King Cole's early career in context.

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