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  • Writer's pictureThe Sharp Notes Editor

Nat King Cole: Live at the Blue Note Chicago

Never-Before-Heard Nat King Cole Live at the Blue Note Chicago

Arrives for Record Store Day

Tothnotes: I have said this before and I'll say it again (right now): while Nat "King" Cole is always a pleasure to listen to, my favorite presentation of him is when he's singing from behind the piano keyboard, which he is on this forthcoming set.

Nat King Cole Plays Piano on The Blue Note Chicago

From release:

The week of August 28, 1953, riding high on the charts, acclaimed pianist and singer Nat King Cole took to the stage at the Blue Note Chicago, Chi-town’s first integrated venue in his beloved Bronzeville neighborhood. Nearly five years had passed since Cole’s last appearance at the club. Upon returning to the city, he graced the stage for these intimate performances at least twice a day for a week. 


Seventy years later, those historic, never-before-heard performances by Chicago’s adopted son’s week-long residency have been unearthed and meticulously restored for Nat King Cole Live at the Blue Note Chicago, out April 20 via Record Store Day and available worldwide at select independent music retailers. The collection will be available on 2LP with lacquers cut by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio, pressed-on audiophile-quality 180-gram vinyl at RTI and housed in a Stoughton gatefold jacket, 2CD, and digital formats.

The set boasts detailed notes about the meticulous restoration process from the original dual mono recordings by audio engineer and producer James Sàez, who spent weeks working on a sequence that followed Cole’s original set list, including transitions, crowd participation, and introductions during the show. The packaging also includes an essay by acclaimed author and music critic Will Friedwald, a replica of the club’s original newsletter promoting Cole’s residency, and several rare archival photos of Cole in and around Chicago from the era. 


Recorded by club owner Frank Holzfeind, who fatefully taped shows each night at the nation’s premier jazz venue for his enjoyment, Live at the Blue Note Chicago creates a personal connection, taking the listener back to Cole’s Chicago roots and showcasing a different side of him during a time when jazz was at the forefront of musical exploration and cultural expression. The collection features the unbridled raw energy of his trio—John Collins (guitar), Charlie Harris (bass), Lee Young (drums)—lead by Cole’s fierce piano playing, instantly recognizable velvety voice, and sophisticated charm, intimately performing the timeless American songbook.


Nat King Cole Live at the Blue Note Chicago



Side 1

1. Frank Holzfeind Introduction :16

2. Little Girl 2:28

3. Unforgettable 3:44

4. It’s Only A Paper Moon 3:30

5. Love Is Here To Stay 3:44

6. Too Marvelous For Words 3:43

7. What Does It Take 2:36

RT- 20:04

Side 2

8. You Stepped Out Of A Dream 2:37

9. Exactly Like You 3:59

10. Sweet Lorraine 4:15

11. Can’t I 3:47

12. Band Introduction :18

13. Calypso Blues 3:20

RT- 18:25

Side 3

1. Frank Holzfeind Introduction 2:25

2. Walkin' My Baby Back Home 2:07

3. Mona Lisa / Too Young 3:50

4. Blue Gardenia 2:28

5. Straighten Up And Fly Right 3:17

6. Funny (Not Much) 3:37

7. Somewhere Along The Way 2:45

8. Nature Boy 2:19 

RT- 20:51

Side 4

9. Pretend 3:24

10. A Fool Was I 3:50

11. If Love Is Good To Me 3:18

12. I Am In love 2:54

13. This Can’t Be Love 2:41

14. Route 66 3:34

RT- 19:46


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