I was digging through my LPs looking for something I had forgotten to play in a while and found an old (79) Giants of Jazz LP(LP-1013). I bought it sometime a go from FantasyLand records, north of Atlanta in Buckhead section of town. It is a great used record/CD store.
It is a transcription of some old radio programs that featured the King Cole Trio as they were known then of Nat King Cole, Wesley Prince-bass, and Oscar Moore-guitar. These are from some Keystone radio broadcasts of 1939.
There are also cuts from a booking at the Trocadero Club on Sunset Strip in CA that were part of a MBS broadcast in April, 1945. There are also cuts with Bing Crosby doing the introductions from the Kraft Music Hall radio series.
THE MAN ON THE LITTLE WHITE KEYS
FRIM FRAM SAUCE
IF YOU CAN'T SMILE AND SAY SAYS (2 RECORDINGS SIDES 1 AND 2)
THE TROUBLE WITH ME IS YOU
SWEET GEORGIA BROWN (played at the speed of light)
SATCHEL MOUTH BABY
ON THE SUNNY SIDE OF THE STREET
SWEET LORRAINE (without the hospitalized Oscar Moore)
IF YOU CAN'T SMILE AND SAY YES
SWEET GEORGIA BROWN
What is remarkable about these mono recordings is that they document the beginning of the trio, without a drummer, considered essential these days. The liner notes on this disc are spectacular and why many of us bemoan CDs for their lack of recording session documentation and other background info we enjoy reading.
The story goes that they had originally booked a drummer for the Quartet that Nat would front. Paid $75 a week to play at the Swanee Inn on LaBrea in LA. The drummer never showed up the first night and the rest is history. Nat also never sang origially, leaving the band in instrumental mode, until an intoxicated "regular" patron demanded a request be sung, and after that the rest is really history.
Even the lacking recording quality cannot hide Nat King Cole's immense piano playing skills. His older brother, Eddie, demanded that Nat learn to really play, read music well, as he would always be in demand as a session player and never starve to death. Maybe the best advise a brother ever gave. Wesley Prince was the original bass player. He took a job in an aircraft factory in Sept 42 and Johnny Miller stepped in. He had played in the Eddie Beale trio. This group would remain together for 6 years, starting recording on Decca and moving to Capitol in 1943.
Part of the fun of these recordings is the banter between cuts with the announcers, including Bing Crosby. The "cool cat" launguage is almost laughable by todays standards, but really "hip" in those days.
What is unmistakable is the remarkable talent that cannot be hidden by poor microphone technique, but it was AM radio in all of its glory of Mono. It is too bad these recordings are not better because these performances are a treasure. Great fun.
Now what would really be "cool" is if John Marks and John Atkinson could attend an original master tape tranfer to DSD of Nat King Cole recordings to SACD. Those are some original master tapes I would love to hear myself.