Nat King Cole is the professional name of the American Jazz musician, Nathaniel Adams Coles. The musician was born on March 17, 1919, and made a prominent place in the field of Jazz before resting in peace on February 15, 1965. In his lifespan of 45 years, the pianist recorded hundreds of songs that greatly influenced the genre of Jazz.
Cole was a great artist who did not confine his creativity to music alone but went far to act in films and TV shows as well. He also had a trio that became highly influential as well as inspiring to other Jazz ensembles that came later. Some great records by Nat King can still be listened to on Swing Street, the Jazz music radio station in the USA.
Cole is remembered as one of the greatest small-group leaders and Jazz pianists of all time. However, his mainstream success is primarily characterized by his singing skills in light Swing and warm ballads.
How did things start?
Nathaniel Adams was born in Montgomery, Alabama in a family of 7. He had three brothers and a half sister. At the age of four, he performed for the first time after learning to play the organ from his mother. He began taking serious piano lessons at the age of 12. The lessons covered genres like Jazz, Classical and Gospel. Shortly after, his lessons consisted of numbers from Sergei Rachmaninoff to Johann Sebastian Bach.
At the age of 15, Cole dropped out of high school and followed his passion for music to build a career. Initially, he formed a sextet with his brother Eddie, a bassist and recorded a few singles and toured. Later on, he married Nadine Robinson and settled in Los Angeles. Following that, he started looking for work and fortunately found work as a pianist in nightclubs. He also started leading a big band. After the suggestion of the club owner, Cole went to form a band of his own with bassist Wesley Prince and guitarist Oscar Moore. The band was initially known as the King Cole Swingsters but before recording and making radio transcriptions, King Cole Trio is what they finally called themselves.
How did things fall into place?
Sweet Lorraine from 1940 is the first hit from Cole's recording. King Cole was mainly popular due to his piano playing skills and the Trio. However, he also enjoyed significant success as a vocalist. According to Cole, once a drunken patron asked him to sing Sweet Lorraine and shortly after that, his vocal talents came to the limelight. People started requesting more vocal performances from the legend. Sweet Lorraine is enjoyed even today by many Swing aficionados. The song can be listened on the popular Jazz music radio station in the USA.
His career as a vocalist:
Cole's trio recorded a number of great tracks that include "That Ain't Right" for Decca, "All For You" for Excelsior, "I'm Lost" written by Otis Rene, and many more. In an interview, Cole said about his experience of being a vocalist: "I started out to become a jazz pianist; in the meantime, I started singing and I sang the way I felt and that's just the way it came out".
Conclusion - Nat King Cole is a prominent name in Jazz music and people cherish his tracks even today. If you tune into a Jazz music radio station in the USA, you can listen to the masterpieces he had created. Should you want to know more about the legend, tune into Swing Street Radio.