Friday, July 23, 2010
Nat King Cole
Clearing out the shed today and came across a pile of old 78's. Some were cracked and broken but others like this Nat King Cole version of Love Letters still had some life left in them. I much prefer the Ketty Lester version but this has a certain charm despite the syrupy strings. Just him and his trio seemed just perfect but his later recordings leave me cold.
Wikipedia says -
Nathaniel Adams Coles was born in Montgomery, Alabama, on Saint Patrick's Day in 1919 (some sources erroneously list his birth year as 1917). At the age of 4, his family moved to Chicago, Illinois. There his father, Edward Coles, became a Baptist minister. Cole learned to play the organ from his mother, Perlina Coles, the church organist. His first performance, at age four, was of "Yes! We Have No Bananas". He began formal lessons at the age of 12, eventually learning not only jazz and gospel music but also European classical music, performing, as he said, "from Johann Sebastian Bach to Sergei Rachmaninoff".
"Cole had three brothers - Eddie, Ike, and Freddy. Cole's sister, Joyce Cole, married the famous art supplier, Robert Doak, of Robert Doak & Associates, Incorporated. The family lived in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago. Cole would sneak out of the house and hang around outside the clubs, listening to artists such as Louis Armstrong, Earl Hines, and Jimmie Noone. He participated in Walter Dyett's renowned music program at DuSable High School.
Inspired by the playing of Earl Hines, Cole began his performing career in the mid 1930s while still a teenager, adopting the name "Nat Cole". His older brother, Eddie Cole, a bass player, soon joined Cole's band, and they made their first recording in 1936 under Eddie's name. They were also regular performers at clubs. In fact, Cole acquired his nickname "King" performing at one jazz club, a nickname presumably reinforced by the otherwise unrelated nursery rhyme about Old King Cole. He was also a pianist in a national tour of Broadway theatre legend Eubie Blake's revue, "Shuffle Along". When it suddenly failed in Long Beach, California, Cole decided to remain there. He would later return to Chicago in triumph to play such venues as the famed Edgewater Beach Hotel."
Nat King Cole - Love Letters