Best of

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as of 12/02/2020 (Details)

Before he achieved his tremendous success as a ballad singer, Nat "King" Cole was already a great jazz pianist, with the effervescent swing of Earl Hines and the grace of Teddy Wilson. The trio that he led through the '40s was a unique musical group, a perfect forum for Cole's talents as both a swing pianist and a vocalist who could range comfortably from boppish instrumentals to moving ballads to infectious novelty tunes. With the instrumentation of piano, guitar, and bass, the group combined light textures and solid swing, and guitarist Oscar Moore, one of the first to master the single-string possibilities of the electric instrument, was Cole's equal as an improviser. Ranging from 1942 to 1950, this three-CD set is an excellent compilation of the trio's recordings, with the first disc devoted to instrumentals and the other two to vocals. From the sly irony of "Meet Me at no Particular Place" to the warmth and immediacy of "You're the Cream in my Coffee," the music possesses a charm that's rooted in its period but which extends far beyond it. --Stuart Broomer

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