This Live at the Circle Room date has been issued before, but the bonus material of the same band from a later date makes this an extra special set. For starters, the Circle Room, in the Hotel La Salle in Milwaukee, was the town's premier jazz spot in 1946. The first 17 tracks on this CD come from four performances between September 21 and 25 of that year. Cole, with Oscar Moore and Johnny Miller, had begin his singing career in earnest, and playing in front of a lounge crowd seemed like the most natural thing in the world for him. Indeed, as bottles click, and the periodic murmur of voices in the foreground appear in the mix, the listener will be transported into Cole's magical space. From Ellington's "C Jam Blues," to "I'm in the Mood for Love," "I'm Thru With Love," and "Sweet Georgia Brown," the Cole trio kicks it with grace and elegance. The latter eight cuts here are form 1949, from a date in Los Angeles, and feature Joe Comfort and Jack Constanzo as the rhythm section. While the development of Cole's voice and arrangements were well-suited for the nightclub, his harmonic adventures were curtailed in this setting.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek