One of the most popular and memorable American musicians of the 20th century, Nat King Cole (1919-65) is remembered today as both a pianist and a singer, a feat rarely accomplished in the world of popular music. Now, in this complete life and times biography, author Will Friedwald offers a new
take on this fascinating musician, framing him first as a bandleader and then as a star. In Cole's early phase, Friedwald explains, his primary task of keeping his trio going was just as much of a focus for him as his own playing and singing, always a collective or group performance. In the second
act, Cole's collaborators were more likely to be arranger-conductors like Nelson Riddle and Gordon Jenkins, rather than his sidemen on bass and guitar. In the first act, his sidemen were equals, in the second phase, his collaborators were tasked exclusively with putting the focus on him, making him
sound good, while being largely invisible themselves.