Jazz Birthday Calendar, March 17: Nat King Cole

Underrated as a pianist, apart from his enormous influence as a singer:

My grandfather had a funny story about booking Nat King Cole and his trio for a gig at the UCLA weekly variety show that my grandfather ran when he was a student in the 40s. It was a big “get” of course, but the show time came and the band was nowhere to be found. My grandfather went outside and found the three members of the trio struggling up some of the campus’s famous steps, cursing up a storm, pulling the bass player’s enormous instrument.

It ended up a great show. (My grandfather was less successful booking Groucho Marx when he encountered him in the bathroom of a movie theatre; it went something like “Would you be interested in appearing in the UCLA showcase?” “No, but would you be interested in appearing in the urinal showcase? It’s going to be starting right over there.”)

janss_steps_ucla

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