May 22, 2024

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Vinyl review: Nat King Cole Live – Blue Note Chicago – 2024: Video, Cover

Los Angeles, CA – May 2, 2024 – Following a sold-out Record Store Day limited release on April 20, Iconic Artists Group today announces the May 31 global release of Nat King Cole Live at the Blue Note Chicago.

The week of August 28, 1953, riding high on the charts, acclaimed pianist and singer Nat King Cole took to the stage at the Blue Note Chicago, Chi-town’s first integrated venue in his beloved Bronzeville neighborhood. Nearly five years had passed since Cole’s last appearance at the club. Upon returning to the city, he graced the stage for these intimate performances at least twice a day for a week.

Seventy years later, those historic, never-before-heard performances by Chicago’s adopted son’s week-long residency have been unearthed and meticulously restored for this “time capsule” (Analog Planet). The album is available on 2LP with lacquers cut by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio, pressed-on audiophile-quality 180-gram vinyl at RTI, and housed in a Stoughton gatefold jacket, as well as 2CD, and digital formats.

The set boasts detailed notes about the meticulous restoration process from the original dual mono recordings by audio engineer and producer James Sáez, who spent weeks working on a sequence that followed Cole’s original set lists, including transitions, crowd participations, and introductions during the shows. The packaging also includes: an essay by acclaimed author and music critic Will Friedwald; a replica of the club’s original newsletter promoting Cole’s residency; and numerous rare archival photos of Cole in and around Chicago from the era.

Recorded by club owner Frank Holzfeind, who fatefully taped shows each night at the nation’s premier jazz venue for his enjoyment, Live at The Blue Note Chicago creates a personal connection, taking the listener back to Cole’s Chicago roots and showcasing a different side of him during a time when jazz was at the forefront of musical exploration and cultural expression. The collection features the unbridled raw energy of his trio—John Collins (guitar), Charlie Harris (bass), Lee Young (drums)—lead by Cole’s fierce piano playing, instantly recognizable velvety voice, and sophisticated charm, intimately performing the timeless Great American Songbook.

On June 11, the 2024 Tribeca Festival, in association with the GRAMMY Museum, will feature Storytellers – Jon Batiste Celebrates Nat King Cole Through Music & Conversation at The Indeed Theater at Spring Studios in New York City. The music and conversation will pay homage to Nat King Cole’s Live at the Blue Note Chicago and will be moderated by author and music journalist Marcus J. Moore. Tickets are available here.

Available at World Market stores nationwide in July, Chicago-based boutique coffee shop Dark Matter Coffeewill release a custom Nat King Cole coffee blend with Live at the Blue Note Chicago-branded coffee package designed by local Chicago artist Oscar Joyo. A legacy company in the heart of Chicago, Dark Matter Coffee is dedicated to the quality of coffee, life, music, and arts.

Nat King Cole Live at the Blue Note Chicago Tracklisting:

Side 1
1. Frank Holzfeind Introduction :16
2. Little Girl 2:28
3. Unforgettable 3:44
4. It’s Only A Paper Moon 3:30
5. Love Is Here To Stay 3:44
6. Too Marvelous For Words 3:43
7. What Does It Take 2:36
RT- 20:04

Side 2
8. You Stepped Out Of A Dream 2:37
9. Exactly Like You 3:59
10. Sweet Lorraine 4:15
11. Can’t I 3:47
12. Band Introduction :18
13. Calypso Blues 3:20
RT- 18:25

Side 3
1. Frank Holzfeind Introduction 2:25
2. Walkin’ My Baby Back Home 2:07
3. Mona Lisa / Too Young 3:50
4. Blue Gardenia 2:28
5. Straighten Up And Fly Right 3:17
6. Funny (Not Much) 3:37
7. Somewhere Along The Way 2:45
8. Nature Boy 2:19
RT- 20:51

Side 4
9. Pretend 3:24
10. A Fool Was I 3:50
11. If Love Is Good To Me 3:18
12. I Am In love 2:54
13. This Can’t Be Love 2:41
14. Route 66 3:34
RT- 19:46

About Nat King Cole – One of the most identifiable and memorable voices of the 20th century, Nat King Cole recorded nearly 40 albums and over 150 singles that reached Billboard’s pop, R&B, and country charts and sold more than 50 million copies. As the first Black man to host a radio show and a national television show, NBC’s “The Nat King Cole Show,” he was a civil rights pioneer. Cole appeared in several films, including St. Louis Blues and Cat Ballou. He won the Grammy® Award for Best Performance for “Midnight Flyer” and was honored with a Special Achievement Award from the Golden Globes. He was posthumously awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from NARAS and inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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