Nat King Cole

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About this artist

Thinking of Nat “King” Cole as just a legendary vocalist is like praising Robert De Niro solely for his comedic work. Sure, Cole is identifiable by his delicious recordings of countless songs — “When I Fall in Love,” “Mona Lisa,” “L-O-V-E,” “Lush Life,” and “Unforgettable” (which was reintroduced to a new generation as a posthumous duet with his daughter Natalie Cole). And, in an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Mel Torme admitted his favorite version of his immortal “The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You)” was the first-ever recorded — Nat King Cole’s version. But, Cole’s formidable piano playing was his initial claim to fame. His recordings with tenor saxophone titan Lester Young and drum monster Buddy Rich from the mid-‘40s showcase three instrumental equals. The influences of Cole’s drumlesss trios with guitar and double bass, in turn, can be heard more recently in Diana Krall and John Pizzarelli’s work.