Cole, Nat King


Cole, Nat King
orig. Nathaniel Adams Coles

born March 17, 1917, Montgomery, Ala., U.S.
died Feb. 15, 1965, Santa Monica, Calif.

U.S. jazz pianist and singer.

Cole grew up in Chicago and formed a trio in Los Angeles (1939), establishing himself as a major jazz piano stylist. Commercial success, however, came with his singing. His warm, relaxed voice brought a personal touch to the ballads and light swing in which he specialized. "Mona Lisa" and "Unforgettable" were among his major hits of the 1950s. He excelled as a stage personality, and he was also a capable film actor.

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▪ American singer and musician
byname of  Nathaniel Adams Cole , family name originally  Coles 
born March 17, 1917, Montgomery, Alabama, U.S.
died February 15, 1965, Santa Monica, California

      American musician hailed as one of the best and most influential pianists and small-group leaders of the swing era. Cole attained his greatest commercial success, however, as a vocalist specializing in warm ballads and light swing.

      Cole grew up in Chicago where, by age 12, he sang and played organ in the church where his father was pastor. He formed his first jazz group, the Royal Dukes, five years later. In 1937, after touring with a black musical revue, he began playing in jazz clubs in Los Angeles. There he formed the King Cole Trio (originally King Cole and His Swingsters), with guitarist Oscar Moore and bassist Wesley Prince (later replaced by Johnny Miller). The trio specialized in swing music with a delicate touch in that they did not employ a drummer; also unique were the voicings of piano and guitar, often juxtaposed to sound like a single instrument. An influence on jazz pianists such as Oscar Peterson (Peterson, Oscar), Cole was known for a compact, syncopated piano style with clean, spare, melodic phrases.

      During the late 1930s and early '40s the trio made several instrumental recordings, as well as others that featured their harmonizing vocals. They found their greatest success, however, when Cole began doubling as a solo singer. Their first chart success, "Straighten Up and Fly Right" (1943), was followed by hits such as "Sweet Lorraine," "It's Only a Paper Moon," "(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons," and "Route 66." Eventually, Cole's piano playing took a backseat to his singing career. Noted for his warm tone and flawless phrasing, Cole was regarded among the top male vocalists, although jazz critics tended to regret his near-abandonment of the piano. He first recorded with a full orchestra (the trio serving as rhythm section) in 1946 for "The Christmas Song," a holiday standard and one of Cole's biggest-selling recordings. By the 1950s, he worked almost exclusively as a singer, with such notable arrangers as Nelson Riddle and Billy May providing lush orchestral accompaniment. "Nature Boy," "Mona Lisa," "Too Young," "A Blossom Fell," and "Unforgettable" were among his major hits of the period. He occasionally revisited his jazz roots, as on the outstanding album After Midnight (1956), which proved that Cole's piano skills had not diminished.

      Cole's popularity allowed him to become the first African American to host a network variety program, The Nat King Cole Show, which debuted on NBC television in 1956. The show fell victim to the bigotry of the times, however, and was canceled after one season; few sponsors were willing to be associated with a black entertainer. Cole had greater success with concert performances during the late 1950s and early '60s and twice toured with his own vaudeville-style reviews, The Merry World of Nat King Cole (1961) and Sights and Sounds (1963). His hits of the early '60s— "Ramblin' Rose," "Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer," and "L-O-V-E" —indicate that he was moving even farther away from his jazz roots and concentrating almost exclusively on mainstream pop. Adapting his style, however, was one factor that kept Cole popular up to his early death from lung cancer in 1965.

      The prejudices of the era in which Cole lived hindered his potential for even greater stardom. His talents extended beyond singing and piano playing: he excelled as a relaxed and humorous stage personality, and he was also a capable actor, evidenced by his performances in the films Istanbul (1957), China Gate (1957), Night of the Quarter Moon (1959), and Cat Ballou (1965); he also played himself in The Nat “King” Cole Musical Story (1955) and portrayed blues legend W.C. Handy (Handy, W.C.) in St. Louis Blues (1958). His daughter Natalie is also a popular singer who achieved her greatest chart success in 1991 with "Unforgettable," an electronically created duet with her father.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Cole, Nat “King” — Cole (kōl), Nat “King”. Originally Nathaniel Adams Coles. 1919 1965. American singer and pianist who recorded such popular ballads as “Unforgettable” and “Mona Lisa.” * * * …   Universalium

  • Cole, Nat King — orig. Nathaniel Adams Coles (17 mar. 1917, Montgomery, Ala., EE.UU.–15 feb. 1965, Santa Mónica, Cal.). Pianista y cantante de jazz estadounidense. Creció en Chicago y formó un trío en Los Ángeles (1939), consagrándose como uno de los grandes… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Cole, Nat King — pseud. di Coles, Nathaniel Adams …   Sinonimi e Contrari. Terza edizione

  • Nat King Cole — Background information Birth name Nathaniel Adams Coles Born March 17, 1919 …   Wikipedia

  • Nat 'King' Cole — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Cole. Nat King Cole Nom Nathaniel Adams Coles Naissance 17 mars 1919 Montgomery, Alabama …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Nat King Cole — en Nueva York en 1947. Datos generales Nombre real Nathanie …   Wikipedia Español

  • Nat 'King' Cole — Nat „King“ Cole (* 17. März 1919 in Montgomery, Alabama; † 15. Februar 1965 in Santa Monica, Kalifornien; eigentlich Nathaniel Adams Coles) war ein US amerikanischer Sänger, Pianist und Jazz Musiker. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Leben 2 …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Nat 'King' Cole — Nat ‘King’ Cole [Nat King Cole] (1919–65) a US singer, especially of love songs, with a soft and pleasant voice. He was also an excellent piano player. He was the first ↑African American to have a programme on radio (1948–9) and television… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Nat King Cole — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Cole. Nat King Cole …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Nat King Cole discography — Nat King Cole discography Releases ↙Studio albums 30 ↙Compilation albums 10 This article contains a listing of Nat King Cole s original albums and compi …   Wikipedia


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