On the Street Where You Live

A lot of Brits will no doubt always associate the titular song with Quality Streets, thanks to a long running advert in the mid-90s.

The song itself originates from the musical “My Fair Lady” which we all know is an musical adaption of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmallion and will probably always be associated with Nat King Cole.

The funny thing about Nat King Cole is that people forget that he was a very good jazz pianist due to his success as a crooner, his crooner image no doubted helped by the vocal album he did with the Battersea born blind pianist George Shearing. This is the album which Cole’s famous recording of “Let There Be Love”,  a song again famous in the UK thanks to an advert (for Bisto Gravy I think). Interestingly enough, in his autobiography  “Lullaby of Birdland” George Shearing talks about the album and he mentions he thought that it would the medium-swing tempo “Pick Yourself Up” which would be the albums most popular song, he wryly admits how wrong he was.

Most Nat King Cole compilations these days focus on his later more commercial work and tend to ignore the Trio work of the 1940s which is a shame as those are very good records. While he sings on most of them he always plays a significant amount of piano on the tracks and he even composes a few numbers, “Straighten Up and Fly Right” being the most famous of his pieces. I think what illustrates the competence of the Nat  King Cole trio is that it consists of Piano, Bass and Guitar, there is no drummer meaning that there is no room for coasting. The trio influenced a lot of future pianists including Ray Charles and Oscar Peterson, the later released an album called “With Respect to Nat” and I believe it is the only album on which Oscar Peters on sings! The similarity of Peterson’s voice to Cole is quite striking, while he doesn’t have the range of Nat it is a pleasant surprise.

However I think my favourite Nat Cole tribute album is by the Canadian Jazz singer/pianist Diana Krall released on the Impulse label and is called “All for You”, it features some lesser known Cole songs like “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”, “Errand Boy for Rhythm” (well it is femininised) and the titular track. More well known Cole songs feature such as “Frim Fram Sauce”, “Hit that Jive Jack” and “Gee, Baby Ain’t I Good to You”, it is a good album and I do believe it was the first Diana Krall I bought.

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7 thoughts on “On the Street Where You Live

  1. I just printed this for Mr. Swiss to read as I knew it would interest him. He completely agrees with what you have written about Nat King Cole, that many have forgotten what an excellent jazz pianist he was and that the Diana Krall album is very good.

    Liked by 1 person

    • He is an amateur actually, although if he and his group can play somewhere he takes the money, he is not so modest. At the moment they have a quartett and it looks like it might develop as at last they are having 1-2 weekly rehearsals. It would be a golden oldie trio, all around 70-75 with the exception of the bass, he is a youngster, gifted and enjoys playing with the seniors.

      Like

  2. Pingback: NaPoWriMo – Day 5 – “Heir Today, Gone With The Wind Tomorrow” by David Ellis | toofulltowrite (I've started so I'll finish)

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