Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Forget the voice, listen to the piano

It won't stop raining.
I just checked the National Weather Service Web site: There are reports of flooding in northern Dubuque County, with roads closed and as much as 6 inches of rain have fallen in some areas in the region.
I am sipping my coffee, slowly waking up and trying to process the information.
I am also listening to a "best of" instrumental collection by the NAT KING COLE TRIO.
As much as I enjoy Nat King Cole's singing, I fervently believe he was a much better pianist and band leader. Indeed, his trio lineup of piano, guitar and bass was considered revolutionary at the time.
Later, of course, countless piano trios took that same formation.
Most people don't recognize that part of Cole's career.
An easy listening fixation on his vocals acts as blinders to his real talent.
Jazz musician and critic Brian Priestley wrote that Cole's playing style "consolidated the piano's vocabulary in a way that was crucial for its adaptation to bebop."
"Nat was taking a key role in turning the idea of 'trumpet-style' right-hand lines into a conception more akin to the saxophone or clarinet," according to Priestley.
Nat is also taking a key role in helping me wake up to face another rainy day.


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