The piano mastery of Nat “King” Cole

The piano mastery of Nat “King” Cole


If you’re over 30, you’ve almost certainly heard Nat “King” Cole sing. Nat was born 96 years ago yesterday (March 17). Even if you’re under 30, you’ve heard this:

Now, if you’re a jazzhead, you probably already know that long before he became a famous crooner, Nat was one of the greatest jazz pianists who ever played. Nat’s trio — with Oscar Moore on guitar and either Wesley Prince or Johnny Miller on bass — sounded like proof of telepathy. They could play beautiful, flowing, intricate lines together as effortlessly as you please. Listen, for example, to the introduction to this classic standard:

The trio had no drummer (sorry, Scott!), but they didn’t need one to swing hard:

To my ear, this band is the gold standard of jazz trio playing. There are more famous trios (those of Oscar Peterson and Bill Evans, for example), but none better. For tasteful, musical, swinging playing, make mine the King.

— Jason Crane is the host of The Jazz Session and the webmaster of this site.

4 Responses

  1. John T. says:

    I grew up listening to Nat King Cole, because my dad loved him. My father met him and Ella Fitzgerald back at the old Boston Garden and Cole’s music was the the soundtrack background of my life as a kid growing up.

    A true story, back in 2001 I was in Las Vegas, and I had eaten at this huge breakfast buffett, and did what you are not supposed to do and went swimming in a outdoor heated pool at my hotel. Bad idea! I took a shower and then my body shut down, I mean shut down, I couldn’t move or function, so I just lied in bed watching the “Nat King Cole Story” the movie on his life which was showing on the local Las Vegas station for the next few hours. I fell asleep during that movie, but I could hear all of Nat’s music from the film in my ears as I slept and I had the sweetest dreams because his music had entered my subconscious!


    It is great that you want to play nationally in the US and internationally, but I would advise that you stay in Boston for one reason. In the next five years some things are coming to Boston that will be great opportunities for you. You will see, which is all I will say for now. Sometimes the quickest path to leave home is to stay home!

  2. Yoko Miwa says:

    Great stories as usual John, except for not being able to function. Things are coming to Boston in the next five years? Now I’m curious!

  3. John T. says:

    P.S. I loved the St .Patrick’s Day tribute that you had posted on your twitter feed!

  4. Yoko Miwa says:

    thank you John! That was a last minute thing but got a lot of views!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Visit Us
Follow Me