Nat King Cole: Jumpin' at Capitol

"Jumpin' at Capitol," along with "I Just Can't See for Lookin'" and "Easy Listening Blues," is one of only three songs credited lifetime to Nadine Robinson, a showgirl and Nat King Cole's first wife. Her sparse composer credits were most likely a ruse, possibly for tax purposes, to disguise Nat's own authorship. "Jumpin' at Capitol," in any case, is clearly the prototype for Nat's delectable dialogue with guitarist Les Paul on "Blues," credited to phantom composer Etaoin Shrdlu, and the sole artistic highlight of JATP's première hystérique, staged seven months after this session and likewise in L.A.

Nat's 6-string correspondent on this track is Oscar Moore, a shamefully neglected pioneer of the electric guitar. While it's a critical commonplace that Nat King Cole was a splendid pianist whose subsequent vocal superstardom eclipsed his keyboard work, Oscar Moore suffered the opposite fate, his post-King Cole Trio career proving as dismal as Nat's was spectacular. While Nat churned out one pop mega-it after another, Oscar pumped gas in the desert. Yet hearing the two of them "Jumpin' at Capitol" in 1943, we simply marvel at their brilliance and easy camaraderie. Backed only by bassist Johnny Miller, Cole and Moore set the gold standard to which all piano/guitar/bass trios would thereafter aspire, but few would attain.

February 09, 2008 · 0 comments


John Scofield: Shoe Dog

Jazzmen, from Charlie Christian to Wes Montgomery, defined the sound of the electric guitar: clear, swinging and sophisticated. But as rock 'n' rollers and electric bluesmen gave the guitar a ruder identity, the instrument turned uglier than General Patton's bull terrier Willie. Amplifiers cranked to 11, feedback, fuzzboxes—it was worse than your 2nd-grade teacher scraping her fingernails on the chalkboard to get everyone's attention. Yet, somehow, out of this din emerged John Scofield, who can flirt with electronic debauchery without violating his jazz vows of musicality. "Shoe Dog," by way of sly, easygoing example, slips so snugly and refreshingly into the ear, we wonder how we've gotten along without it all these years.

December 31, 2007 · 3 comments


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