Song:The Late, Late Show
Album:Welcome To The Club/Tell Me All About Yourself
Of course Nat King Cole was a pioneer of black music and one of the most popular singers of the 50s. But people tend to forget that before that he was a very successful jazz pianist with his trio. By the late 50s, the rise of Rock & Roll meant that Cole's success as a pop singer was likely at an end. He had top ten hits with Send For Me and Looking Back and the very successful 1957 album Love Is The Thing. But Cole was a smart guy and he knew he had to try other things. He tried Rock & Roll with mixed success and played W.C. Handy in the 1958 film St. Louis Blues. The other thing that happened is arranger Nelson Riddle had left Capitol for Frank Sinatra's new label Reprise. Cole had success with the 1957 jazz album After Midnight. So he approached Capitol house arranger Dave Cavanaugh and Cavanaugh's idea was to have Cole record with The Count Basie Orchestra. Of course Cole loved that idea. The problem was Basie was under contract to Roulette Records and would not be able to appear on the album. He was replaced by pianist Gerald Wiggins. But the rest of the band is the real Basie band featuring guys like Thad Jones, Snooky Young, Al Grey, Frank Wess, Frank Foster, Freddie Green, Eddie Jones and Sonny Payne. So those interested in hearing Cole in a big band setting might want to check out Welcome To The Club. The Late, Late Show was written by Roy Alfred and Murray Berlin. Alfred was a veteran songwriter best known for writing The Hucklebuck. Murray Berlin is a pseudonym for Dave Cavanaugh. The song was first recorded by jazz singer Dakota Staton in 1957. Cavanaugh was the arranger. Also, Basie recorded the song on the 1958 album The Atomic Mr. Basie but it wasn't on the original album. The instrumental and vocal recordings of The Late, Late Show are bonus tracks on the 1994 CD release. Joe Williams was the singer. Obviously Cavanaugh knew the Basie band was familiar with the song. The best way to get Welcome To The Club is on a twofer CD released by the British label Collector's Choice. The other album on the CD is Tell Me All About Yourself which was recorded a month after Welcome to The Club. Musicians include Harry "Sweets" Edison on trumpet, John Collins on guitar, Charlie Harris on bass and Lee Young on drums along with an unidentified orchestra. Both albums are short so the twofer is the best option. Cole returned to the pop top ten with the 1962 hit Ramblin' Rose and he continued his success until his 1965 death. Here's a video for The Late, Late Show by Nat King Cole with The Count Basie Orchestra.