Nat King Cole

Pieces of Cole

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Many jazz fans bemoaned Nat King Cole's abandonment of a promising career as a singing jazz pianist to focus almost exclusively on making records that appealed to a broader, but definitely non-swinging audience. This English compilation samples transcriptions from several different sessions, beginning with some of Cole's earliest vocals from broadcast (apart from the previous featured vocals by the entire trio), which come from 1940 (not 1938, as listed in the liner notes). Although these half-dozen tracks are attractive, the weakness of the songs and the pretty but definitely pop vocals by Maxene Johnson -- which accompany Cole on two long-forgotten ballads, "Sentimental Blue" and "Love Me Sooner" -- make the material of minimal interest. Better tracks include a 1945 transcription made at the Trocadero Room in Los Angeles of "I'm Through With Love" and a pair of similar discs cut in 1950 of "It's Almost Like Being in Love" and "It's Only a Paper Moon." The seven songs on the second side of the LP come from a 1949 transcription disc and were recorded for the ARFS "Just Jazz" series. Unfortunately, lightweight material like the inane "Flo and Joe" and the trivial instrumental "Go Bongo" (to feature newcomer Jack Constanzo on bongos) detract from better numbers like "Gee Baby, Ain't I Good to You" and the tight instrumental "Tiny's Exercise." Although some of the material within this collection has been reissued on various CDs, there's still enough good material which is relatively hard to find to make it worthwhile for Nat King Cole fans to search for this 1979 English LP, which claims to be a limited edition of only 3,000.

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