Next Show

March 5th, 2016
Saturday, 5pm

In-store performance at the famous Music Millennium record store, Portland, OR

Free! Hank will be there with his full band.


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Listening to - Nat

NKC_portraitIf Hank has a favorite singer right now, it’s got to be Nat ‘King’ Cole.  His voice, which is always cool, easy and hip, never sounds pushed.

I’m especially enjoying his work in the 1940’s, with Nat playing the piano, with an acoustic bass and a jazz guitar.  I was unfamiliar with Nat’s early career, but to get a couple of tunes, I had to buy an entire five-disc box set of the Nat King Cole Trio, and soon discovered a new appreciation for one tune after another.  The NKC Trio also showed Nat to be a monster pianist, whose skills are often overlooked.

NKC_trioAs musician, the best thing is to be able to take apart some of my favorites, work them up, and add them to my repertoire.  Sometimes this can be a real challenge since some of the songs are pretty obscure and there doesn’t seem to be any charts to them anywhere (like “I Thought You Ought To Know”). Fortunately, I have my good friend Steve Prager to help.  Steve can listen to any song once through, and call all the changes; diminished, augmented, minor 7th flat 5 – no problem.  Amazing!

Being a late-comer to the jazz scene, I didn’t realize that a lot of these tunes were jazz classics that have done by everyone from Bessie Smith to Miles Davis to Chet Baker.  Thanks to YouTube, it’s interesting to hear their interpretations, but I keep coming back the bounce of Nat’s trio.  I guess I gotta have that cool swing.

NKC_midnightIn the mid-50’s, Nat recorded the “After Midnight” album, partly to counter accusations of jazz aficianados that he sold out to sing popular songs, and lost his jazz chops.  So in this album, Nat goes back to roots, recording with a couple of sidemen, and some guest musicians.  I’ve heard a couple of the tracks and they sound very solid, so I’m looking forward to getting the album to hear the rest.

These days, probably every fourth or fifth song I do is one that Nat did.  I hope you’ll stop by and catch a few.

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