Nat King Cole • Quincy Jones Big Band

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COMPOSERS: Nat King Cole; Quincy Jones
LABELS: TCB
ALBUM TITLE: Nat King Cole • Quincy Jones Big Band
WORKS: Recorded Live in Zurich, 1960
PERFORMER: Nat King Cole; Quincy Jones Big Band
CATALOGUE NO: TCB02332

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There’s an interesting backstory to this recently rediscovered concert recording from the archives of Swiss Radio. At the close of a European tour, Quincy Jones’s 18-piece big band was suffering from low box office takings. He was helped out when jazz impresario Norman Granz suggested hooking the band up with singer/pianist Nat King Cole. In this Zurich concert, sensing an audience of jazz purists, Jones suggested to Cole that he include some jazz piano tunes among his pop hits. And the result is a winner.

Jones’s big band is on sparkling form from the outset, with dazzling versions of Bobby Timmons’s ‘Moanin’ and Benny Goodman’s ‘Airmail Special’, while Cole showcases his pre-pop runaway piano technique on trio tracks such as ‘Tea For Two. The disc also has a radio interview with Cole, discussing his role as a jazz and pop performer. And his pop hits such as ‘Route 66’ are lightly embellished by big band. This is an unmissable meeting of two jazz greats.

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Neil McKim