By the time Oliver Nelson and his big band had recorded Fantabulous in March of 1964 for Argo, the great composer, saxophonist, conductor, and arranger was a man about town in New York. He had released some truly classic dates of his own as a leader in smaller group forms – Blues and the Abstract Truth and Full Nelson among them – and had done arrangement work for everyone from Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and Johnny Hodges, Nancy Wilson, Frank Wess, King Curtis, Etta Jones, Jimmy Smith, Jack Teagarden, Betty Carter, Billy Taylor, and Gene Ammons, to name more than a few. For Fantabulous, he took his working big band to Chicago for a gig sponsored by Daddy-O-Daylie, a famous local disc jockey.
Kid Ory was one of the great New Orleans pioneers, an early trombonist who virtually defined the "tailgate" style (using his horn to play rhythmic bass lines in the front line behind the trumpet and clarinet) and who was fortunate enough to last through the lean years so he could make a major comeback in the mid-'40s. Originally a banjoist, Ory soon switched to trombone and by 1911 was leading a popular band in New Orleans. Among his trumpeters during the next eight years were Mutt Carey, King Oliver and a young Louis Armstrong and his clarinetists included Johnny Dodds, Sidney Bechet, and Jimmie Noone. In 1919, Ory moved to California and in 1922 (possibly 1921) recorded the first two titles by a Black New Orleans jazz band ("Ory's Creole Trombone" and "Society Blues") under the band title of Spike's Seven Pods of Pepper Orchestra. In 1925 he moved to Chicago, played regularly with King Oliver, and recorded many classic sides with Oliver, Louis Armstrong (in his Hot Five and Seven), and Jelly Roll Morton, among others.
Defining the blues is a simple task: a basic I-IV-V chord progression laid over a 12-bar framework, however the blues have evolved from African-American field hollers through rough-hewn rural heavyweights such as Blind Lemon Jefferson to the immaculate guitar excursions of B.B. King.
The Best of Nat King Cole is part of EMI-Capitol Special Markets' Ten Best Series, where they selected ten hits from a popular artist on their roster. For the budget-minded, it's a nice collection of Nat King Cole's best-known hits, like "Unforgettable," "Ramblin' Rose," "Mona Lisa," "Walkin' My Baby Back Home" and "(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons." It certainly won't please either jazz purists or Cole collectors, but the budget-conscious looking for an affordable (albeit skimpy) sampler of well-known Cole should turn here.