King Cole Trio
Reviewed by Jay Trachtenberg, Fri., Dec. 16, 2005
King Cole Trio
Transcriptions (Blue Note)
There was something truly delightful about the Nat King Cole Trio, and an integral part of their soulful, sophisticated sound came from Austin-born guitarist Oscar Moore. The combination of his rhythmic dexterity, giving the group its understated yet propulsive swing, and his impeccable leads, grounded in a blues-rich Lone Star tradition, complemented Cole's remarkably fluid piano and velvety smooth vocals. Moore's superb fretwork bridged the gap between Charlie Christian and T-Bone Walker in the still fertile, decades-long legacy of Texas guitar heroes. Extremely popular in its day, the Trio was hugely influential on the likes of Ray Charles, Oscar Peterson, and Charles Brown, with whom Moore and his brother Johnny would later form the Three Blazers. Moore appears on two of the three CDs in this set (formidable guitarist Irving Ashby is featured on the third), which collects all 71 sides Cole recorded for the Capitol Transcription Service between 1946 and 1950. In addition to the extraordinary number of commercially available sides the Trio recorded throughout the Forties, they also waxed these "live" in-studio sessions for transcription services that, in turn, produced them as 15-minute segments for radio broadcast. These tended to be relaxed, one-take gigs that were more conducive to artistic risk-taking than the typical recording date. Many selections never appeared commercially, including some dazzling instrumentals. This is the King Cole Trio in its prime and a splendid showcase for the Texas guitar of homegrown Oscar Moore.