Nat King Cole

Dance Band Days: The Nat King Cole Trio

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Dance Band Days: The Nat King Cole Trio, a budget-priced compilation of radio transcriptions of live performances by the Nat King Cole Trio between 1940 and 1950, has a lot of problems as a package. There is no information on recordings dates or personnel (these have been gleaned from a discography), titles and songwriting credits are often incorrect (they have been corrected here), and the sound quality is iffy. But leaving those matters aside, there are some wonderful vocal performances by Cole and some terrific soloing by his sidemen. The bulk of the recordings come from a July 22, 1940, date in Hollywood ("Jump Jitters," "Nothing Ever Happens," "Let's Do Things," "Sentimental Blue," "What'cha Doin' to My Heart?," "Love Me Sooner") or a July 29, 1949, show at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles for the Armed Forces Radio Service's Just Jazz show ("Flo and Jo," "Go Bongo," "Yes Sir, That's My Baby," "Tiny's Exercise," "Gee Baby, Ain't I Good to You," "Baby, I Need You," "Bop Kick"), with one circa 1945 at the King Cole Room of the Trocadero nightclub in Hollywood ("I'm Through With Love") and two from the "Guest Star" Treasury Department show on June 25, 1950 ("Almost Like Being in Love," "It's Only a Paper Moon"). On the 1940 show, Cole, guitarist Oscar Moore, and bassist Wesley Prince are joined by singer Maxene Johnson for two numbers. By the time of the 1949 cuts, the trio consists of Cole, guitarist Irving Ashby, and bassist Joe Comfort, with bongo player Jack Costanzo turning in a showcase performance on "Go Bongo." Cole is an engaging frontman at all times, singing smoothly and playing piano in his economical, rhythmic style.

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