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Swiss Radio Days, Vol. 43 / Nat King Cole Trio

Swiss Radio Days, Vol. 43 / Nat King Cole Trio

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Straighten up and fly right… to Zurich 1950! To discover an unreleased concert is a priceless gift. All the more so, as the recording of this 1950 performance given at the Kongresshaus in Zurich recreates faithfully what was played that evening, in a quality worthy of praise for the sound engineer.

In 1950 Nat King Cole presented a brilliant trio, using the formula tried and approved by him consisting of guitar, piano, and double bass. It is the impeccable Irving Ashby and Joe Comfort who share the stage with him, along with a recent discovery, percussionist Jack Costanzo, aka Mr. Bongo. The three musicians plus one are thick as thieves on the Zurich stage, alternating between standards and the trio’s hits with a verve and a good humor which are pure pleasure to listen to. Nat isn’t too concerned about delivering perfection, and lets himself go here and there with little “slips” and nicely risky flights, ideas owing in uninterrupted improvisation, giving these interpretations a unique flavor and freshness. The arrangements, stuffed with tasty and rhythmically impeccable morsels, are a constant treat for today’s listeners.


The ten instrumental numbers found herein find Cole near the peak of his expressive powers. He runs wild over Jack Costanzo's bongos on his own "Bop Kick," extemporizes on "Saint Louis Blues" in stellar fashion, commands attention in setting the scene for a purposeful "Summertime," tickles the keys on "Poor Butterfly," and paints a picture of pure class on "Body and Soul." His rapport with the musicians – each of whom, incidentally, gets a feature number – is evident throughout the program's entirety. Whether you love the man for his voice, his piano, his personality, or a combination of all three, there's much to enjoy on this one. – All About Jazz

By the time of this live session, Cole’s core trio—with guitarist Irving Ashby and bassist Joe Comfort—had unofficially expanded to a quartet, with Jack “Mr. Bongo” Costanzo a regular contributor on recordings and tours.

The dawn of the 1950s was an interesting time for Cole, who found himself smack dab in the middle of the career divide between respected jazz pianist and silk-smooth pop singer. His massive “Mona Lisa” was riding high on the charts. But Cole skips it (also sidestepping the equally seismic “Nature Boy”), focusing more on playing and adding vocals to just five of 15 tracks, including a cream-filled “Embraceable You,” “Sweet Lorraine,” “Route 66” and two peppy numbers, “Little Girl” and “Too Marvelous for Words.” The balance is (mostly) classic trio-based fare, alternating between feather-light bounce and velvet-lined balladry: jaunty romps across “Tea for Two” and “How High the Moon” (intriguingly, “Holiday for Strings” is briefly referenced in both); ruminative readings of “Body and Soul” and “Summertime.” Ashby is given the solo spotlight for his playful “Nothing to Fret About.” But most dazzling is Costanzo, galvanizing “Bop Kick” and then cutting loose on his and Cole’s multilayered “Go Bongo.”

-- JazzTimes (Christopher Loudon)

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    • UPC/Barcode: 725095024327
    • Item Number: TCB 02432