Compilation of Early Recordings!
Mastered by Matthew Lutthans at Cohearent Audio & Pressed at RTI!
2020 Stereophile Magazine Record to Die For!
2021 Grammy Award Nominee:
• Best Historical Album: Hittin' The Ramp: The Early Years (1936-1943)
A rare, comprehensive collection of Nat King Cole's pre-Capitol recordings released in partnership with the Cole Estate.
Includes Extensive Booklet with Interviews and Statements by Johnny Mathis, Quincy Jones, Tony Bennett, Harry Belafonte, Freddy Cole and Others!
"This is a really important project for Resonance," says Zev Feldman, label co-president and the sets co-producer. "Weve done some pretty substantial packages over the years, such as our three-disc Eric Dolphy and Jaco Pastorius sets with 100-page booklets, but this Nat King Cole box is truly a definitive, king-sized set, clocking in at a staggering 10 LPs... worth of essential early Cole material with enhanced audio."
Released in partnership with the Nat King Cole estate, Resonance Records HITTIN THE RAMP: THE EARLY YEARS (1936-1943) is the first large-scale collection of the pivotal early recordings (1936-1943) of Nats 29-year recording career. Most tracks are receiving their first official release in this meticulously restored set of original live-to-disk recordings.
This limited-edition 10LP collection draws upon a wide range of sources, including many newly-discovered tracks unearthed for the first time from archives located all over the world, such as "Trompin" (jukebox-only release for Cinematone, 1939), "Whatcha Know Joe" (undocumented radio performance, 1940 now the earliest known recording of Nat "on the air"), "The Romany Room is Jumpin" (private recording, 1941) and "Beautiful Moons Ago" (longer alternate take, 1943). Sessions include Nat at age 17, playing piano in his brothers band in Chicago, 1936; the first King Cole Trio recordings from 1938, made for radio broadcast only, for Standard Transcriptions; further radio transcription sessions for Standard, Davis & Schwegler, Keystone, plus his first (uncredited) session for MacGregor, with vocalist Anita Boyer; the Ammor Records Session (Spring 1940 the first commercial-release sessions for the trio), the Decca Recordings (1940-41), the small-label sessions for Excelsior and Premier labels (1943), many previously-uncirculated Armed Forces Radio performances, and, with producer Norman Granz at the helm, early jazz sessions with Lester Young (Granz historic, first session as a producer) and Dexter Gordon, originally released on Philo and Mercury, respectively.
"At the height of his fame in the 1950s and 60s," he writes, "Nat King Cole (1919-1965) was primarily known as a popular singer the biggest-selling artist of his generation, no less who occasionally played piano. By that point, only a few older fans and critics remembered that he had been one of the greatest pianists in the whole history of American music, a true spiritual descendent of Earl Fatha Hines and Art Tatum, and himself a huge inspiration for Oscar Peterson, George Shearing, Erroll Garner, and many others."
Beyond Coles brilliance at the keyboard, the Resonance set takes in his dazzling work as a vocalist, and includes a new interview with the master pop singer Johnny Mathis, who discusses his debt to and friendship with his great predecessor.
"As a young boy, studying the art of vocalizing, Nat was everything I needed," Mathis says. "All I did was listen and learn And then I want [people] to remember that he also, also, also played the piano. Please, please, please remember that. Even as gigantic as a pianist as he was as a vocalist."
The majority of the sets nearly 200 tracks focus on the first work by the King Cole Trio, the seminal combo that put Cole on the map with a swinging combination of jazz, jive, and pop, with an emphasis on his simpatico creative partnership with the trios longtime guitarist Oscar Moore.
In his notes for the collection, guitarist Nick Rossi notes that Moores synthesis of such influences as George van Eps, Dick McDonough, Django Reinhardt, and Charlie Christian led to his "groundbreaking style, one which provided a template for how the guitar functions in a modern jazz setting."
Boasting an extensive 60+ page booklet with rare photographs; essays by acclaimed author Will Friedwald and guitarist Nick Rossi (with a special focus on Oscar Moore); interviews and testimonials from Johnny Mathis, Tony Bennett, Quincy Jones, Harry Belafonte, John Pizzarelli, Freddy Cole, Michael Feinstein and many others.
Hittin the Ramp features new remastering from original source disks transferred for this set from a number of personal collections and from the archives at University of California Santa Barbara, The Institute for Jazz Studies at Rutgers University, the the CU Boulder American Music Research Center, and the Library of Congress.
Celebrate Nat King Coles centennial in 2019 with this definitive early years multi-disc box set. This is the origin story of a great artist just as he was just "hittin the ramp," launching a distinctive style that would quickly become famous the world over.
What an absolute dream this is. Resonance Records, one of the best historical jazz labels around, embarked on something ambitious with this massive 10-LP collection that brings together every known song that the great Nat King Cole recorded at the outset of his mythical career. This is well before his commercial breakthroughs in the '50s as a vocalist, when he was making his name as one of the finest boogie woogie and stride pianists around. And when he did lend that unmistakable croon to the proceedings, the fluffiness of the music melted away and the sun blazed through, even on the most light-hearted of romps. Every last track in this set is properly treated like a historical document, with a white-gloved care given to the mastering and presentation. It's a remarkable feat that it sounds as good as it does considering the material was recorded well before magnetic tape became the standard. The folks at Cohearent Audio worked from 78s and transcription discs borrowed from various collectors and archives. The material naturally loses a touch of its punch through digital transfer, and a little more when pressed to an analog LP from a non-analog source. What is on these 20 sides of vinyl is still a vital journey into jazz's past, adding to the legends of Cole, his regular guitarist Oscar Moore, and collaborators like Lester Young and Dexter Gordon. These discs also excavate the long-forgotten memories of singers like Juanelda Carter, who dominates an early '39 session with a gorgeous voice that evokes a young Ella Fitzgerald or a more tender Eartha Kitt, and the more astringent tones of Bonnie Lake. Even better, we get to hear Cole at his most mischievous and crocked. He and his band were, primarily, making dance music; tunes to put on and jitterbug your worries away. That became even more vital to the cause in the '40s as the U.S. entered World War II and popular culture responded. Cole recorded tunes both pointed ('Gone With The Draft') and longing ('My Lips Remember Your Kisses'), as well as performances for the Armed Forces Radio Service, complete with shout outs to specific officers and their families. No matter how varied the sound quality is from disc to disc and track to track on this set, Hittin' The Ramp is a monumental achievement and, we hope, just the beginning of a continued look at the career of one of America's greatest artists.
"The almost 200 tracks here culled (you could almost say in some cases rounded up, hunted down and digitally captured) from a variety of sources are up-tempo swing era gems, the best known of which to casual listeners would be Bobby Troups (for a time husband of Julie London) Route 66, Sweet Lorraine and Straighten Up and Fly Rightall later re-recorded for Capitol.
"This worthy centennial tribute demonstrates why King, though better known later as an incredibly successful pop singer, deserves to be fully recognized as one of the swing eras best, most original and influential jazz pianistslisten here and then to Errol Garner, Oscar Peterson and others who followed.
"You can be in the foulest of moods when putting on any one of the sets 10 LPs. You will walk away uplifted and happy. Any other reaction is simply not possible. The trios playing is lockstep and crisply executed and Kings performances are especially noteworthy considering that hes simultaneously playing and singing.
"Producer Zev Feldman assembled a team of experts in every reissue category required to execute a complex project like this: from the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University, to the Library of Congress and of course the Nat King Cole estate. Also involved were many Cole collectors, the jazz historian Will Friedwald and the aforementioned Doug Pomeroy whose earlier transfers were relied upon heavily here along with around 75 newly transferred tracks (almost ½ dozen by Pomeroy) from best available sources.
"As your minds ear imagines how all of this might sound, keep in mind that most of these tracks originated as 33 1/3rpm 16 inch transcription discspre-microgroove monophonic vinyl records originally created for the motion picture industry and then adopted for radio. There are a few Armed Forces Radio Service transcription discs that also sound remarkably good.
"Some tracks were only available as 78rpm shellac originals that have been newly transferred. Some are from metal parts that sound superior to pressed records.
"While the Technical Notes note surface noise inherent on all recordings, for the most part you will not be at all bothered or distracted by any technical issues or additive distortion. And unlike the early digital days' overuse of noise reduction that killed transients, limited high frequency response and space, these new transfers and however the older tracks were processed sound quite alive. You might be surprised by the robust bottom end and the clean guitar string attack. While all of the tracks arent as immediate, if you start with Disc Ten Side Ones opener Honey Hush, youll be pushed back in your seat. The very top isnt there, but the transparency and depth will pull you right in.
"Often with prequel type packages you get a familiar artist in his or her formative and less than complete years. Not so with Cole. His artistry was fully formed by his mid 20s when he began his recording career. Most of the tracks feature Cole with his trio featuring the guitarist Oscar Moore, with whom Cole seemed to be connected at the fingers. Listen in wonder to the two on Black Spider Stomp. The sound is also impressive.
"The packaging is satisfying as well, from the box to the five double LP gatefold jackets to the full sized booklet and of course the information contained therein. Youll enjoy perusing the many black and white photos and especially Will Friedwalds essay organized as a labelography/time line that ends with a postscript that describes the Romany Room tracks and a few others that are so rare they werent even known to exist before we started work on this package ..
"...this celebratory limited edition set sure to please in no small part because the 10 LPs were superbly pressed at RTI...Very highly recommendedespecially for those who bought and enjoyed the Nat King Cole Story (AAPP 1613-45) box set reissue or any of Analogue Productions double 45rpm Capitol Records Nat King Cole Classics (btw: the 9 for sound is taking into account the source material and how well it was mastered. Do not confuse it with a 9 for a more modern recording)." - Michael Fremer, analogplanet.com, 10/11 Music, 9/11 Sound!
While Resonance Records consistently wows us with ambitious archival releases, the label outdid itself with the new Nat King Cole compilation, Hittin' the Ramp: The Early Years (1936-1943). As you'd expect, the set received the white-glove treatment. Frequently, on the vinyl pressings I listened to, the surface noise that so often transfers over from a low-quality source recording was either nonexistent or so faint that I quickly tuned it out after the first few notes. The sound often surprised me with its clarity and presence, to the point where it gave me goosebumps. Some cuts contain surface noise significant enough to become a distraction, but the historical importance of these extremely rare recordings more than justifies their inclusion in the collection... The best possible source was always used for sound reproduction; for example, six Decca cuts are sourced from metal parts used to create shellac 78s, which sonically beats transferring the music from the actual disc. In true Resonance Records style, keen detective work combined with blind luck helped salvage rare recordings that could easily have become extinct... All the hard work paid off, as the set offers a crash course in early jazz and pop and merging of those two styles... If you weren't a fan of mid-century pop and jazz prior to unboxing Hittin' the Ramp, you will be after listening to it. When recording these songs, the musicians had no idea these performances would survive into the next century or be neatly assembled in a single package that includes documentation of each session. The collection makes it clear that, while still in his late teens and early 20s, Nat King Cole was already in full command of his powers and playing an important role during a remarkably fertile period of music.
- Hand-Numbered, Limited Edition 1st Pressing of 3000 Copies
- 10LP Box Set
- 180g Vinyl
- Mastered by Matthew Lutthans at Cohearent Audio
- Pressed at RTI
- Official release in partnership with the Nat King Cole Estate
- Meticulous sound restoration of 180+ tracks with 8.5 hours of music
- 16-page insert
- Rare photos
- Essays by Will Friedwald & NIck Rossi
- Interviews/testimonials by Johnny Mathis, Tony Bennett, Quincy Jones, Freddy Cole, Harry Belafonte, John Pizzarelli & more
- Sources include the archives at University of California - Santa Barbara; Institue for Jazz Studies at Rutgers University; the Library of Congress; & many others
- Made in USA
1. Honey Hush (Nat Cole)
2. Stompin at the Panama (Skollers Shuffle) (Nat Cole)
3. Bedtime (Sleepy Moan) (Nat Cole)
4. Thunder (Nat Cole)
5. Mutiny in the Nursery (Johnny Mercer)
6. F.D.R Jones (Harold Rome)
7. The Sheik of Araby ((Ted Snyder, Francis Wheeler, Harry B. Smith)
8. The Blue Danube (Johan Strauss II)
9. Button, Button (Clay A. Boland, Bickley Bix Reichner)
1. Jingle Bells (J.S. Pierpont)
2. Swannee River (Stephen Foster)
3. With Plenty of Money and You (Harry Warren, Al Dubin)
4. Dont Blame Me ((Jimmy McHugh, Dorothy Fields)
5. Lullaby in Rhythm (Edgar Sampson, Walter Hirsch, Clarence Profit, Benny Goodman)
6. Dark Rapture (Edgar Sampson, Manny Kurtz, Benny Goodman)
7. The Wiggly Walk (Al Jacobs, Dave Oppenheim, Jack Palmer)
8. Flea Hop (Al Jacobs, Dave Oppenheim, Jack Palmer)
9. Chopsticks (Arthur De Lulli)
10. Patty Cake, Patty Cake (Thomas Fats Waller, Andy Razaf, J. C. Johnson)
1. Blue Skies (Irving Berlin)
2. Liza (George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin, Gus Kahn)
3. Three Blind Mice (Traditional)
4. Caravan (Duke Ellington, Juan Tizol, Irving Mills)
5. Theres no Anesthetic for Love (Marshall Walker)
6. Dixie Jamboree (Lyle Griffin, Charles Callender)
7. Ta-De-Ah (Betty Johnson, Charlie Bourne)
8. Riffin at the Bar-B-Q (Nat Cole)
9. Harlem Swing (Bonnie Lake)
10. I Lost Control of Myself (Irwin Hap Kaufman, Nat Cole)
1. The Land of Make Believe (Betty Johnson, Charlie Bourne)
2. That Please-be-Mine-able Feeling (Reginald Sloan)
3. Dancing in the Street (Arthur Norris)
4. Youre So Different (Nat Leslie)
5. I Wouldnt Have Known It (Marie Bryant, Nat Cole)
6. Lets Get Happy (Dan Arons)
7. Undecided (Charlie Shavers, Sid Robin)
8. Taint What You Do (Sy Oliver, James Trummy Young)
9. Do You Wanna Jump, Children? (Jimmy Van Heusen, Willie Bryant, Victor Selsman)
10. Riffin in F Minor (Nat Cole)
1. Ol Man Mose Aint Dead (Sammy Cahn, Saul Chaplin)
2. Blue Lou (Edgar Sampson, Irving Mills)
3. Honey (Seymour Simons, Haven Gillespie, Richard Whiting)
4. Russian Lullaby (Irving Berlin)
5. Georgie Porgie (unknown)
6. The Limp (unknown)
7. Snug as a Bug in a Rug (Frank Loesser, Matty Malneck)
8. Liebestraum (Franz Liszt)
9. Fidgety Joe (Frank Loesser, Matty Malneck)
1. Two Against One (L. Wolfe Gilbert, Benny Meroff, Lew Pollack)
2. Some Like it Hot (Remo Biondi, Frank Loesser, Gene Krupa)
3. Crazy Rhythm (Joseph Meyer, Roger Wolfe Kahn, Irving Caesar)
4. Moonglow (Will Hudson, Edgar DeLange, Irving Mills)
5. Dont Let That Moon Get Away (James Monaco, Johnny Burke)
6. My Blue Heaven (Walter Donaldson, George Whiting)
7. I Was Doing Alright (George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin)
8. I Cant Get Started ((Vernon Duke, Ira Gershwin)
9. Old Man Moon (Hoagy Carmichael)
10. Carry Me Back to Old Virginny (James Bland)
1. Moon Song (Arthur Johnston, Sam Coslow)
2. Baby, Wont You Please Come Home (Charles Warfield, Clarence Williams)
3. Rosetta (Earl Hines, Henri Woode)
4. Trompin (unknown)
5. Youre My Life (unknown)
6. Hoy Soy (unknown)
7. Take Em (unknown)
8. Scategoria (unknown)
9. Rhythm Serenade (unknown)
10. Rib Town Shuffle (unknown)
1. Musicll Chase Your Blues Away (unknown)
2. Ill Gather Up My Memories (unknown)
3. A Fools Affair (unknown)
4. Jump, Jack, Jump (Charles Lucky Roberts)
5. I Knew a Time (unknown)
6. Mine Youll Always Be (unknown)
7. Doin the Bow Wow (unknown)
8. Lilla Mae (unknown)
1. I Like to Riff (Nat Cole)
2. On the Sunny Side of the Street (Jimmy McHugh, Dorothy Fields)
3. Black Spider Stomp (Nat Cole, Oscar Moore)
4. By the River St. Marie (Harry Warren, Edgar Leslie)
5. Slew Foot Joe (unknown)
6. 1-2-3-4 (Milt Gabler, Gordon Jenkins)
7. Crazy Bout Rhythm (unknown)
8. Off the Beam (unknown)
9. King Cole Blues (unknown)
10. Jivin With the Notes (unknown)
11. Never Mind, Baby (Hal Hampton)
1. Im a Perfect Fool Over You (Sebastian Apollo)
2. Lovely Little Person (Al Heath, Buddy Leroux)
3. Love Me Sooner (unknown)
4. Sentimental Blue (Josh Chamberlain Lawrence)
5. Goin to Town with Honey (E.E. Waters)
6. Syncopated Lullaby (Felix De Cola)
7. Falling in and Out of Love (Nat Cole)
8. Lets Do Things (Virginia Ferragamo)
9. Jumpy Jitters (Gale Hunt, Jack Green)
10. Nothing Ever Happens (Laurence Morgan)
11. Whatcha Doin to My Heart (Tim M. George)
1. Bedtime (Nat Cole)
2. Honey Hush (Nat Cole)
3. French Toast (unknown)
4. Vine Street Jump (unknown)
5. B Flat (unknown)
6. You Send Me (unknown)
7. Love is My Alibi (Nat Cole)
8. Pogo Stick Bounce (unknown)
9. Whatcha Know, Joe? (James Trummy Young)
10. Sweet Lorraine (Mitchell Parish, Cliff Burwell)
1. Honeysuckle Rose (Thomas Fats Waller, Andy Razaf)
2. Gone with the Draft (Earl Dramin, Wesley Prince, Nat Cole)
3. This Side Up (Nat Cole)
4. Jumpin with the Mop (Nat Cole)
5. Jam Man (unknown)
6. Lets Try Again (Biff Hammond, Billy Moore, Jr.)
7. Fudge Wudge (unknown)
8. Smokey Joe (unknown)
9. Windy City Boogie Woogie (unknown)
10. Ode to a Wild Clam (unknown)
1. Lets Try Again (Biff Hammond, Billy Moore, Jr.)
2. Whatcha Know, Joe? (James Trummy Young)
3. Lazy River (Hoagy Carmichael, Sidney Arodin)
4. Georgia on My Mind (Hoagy Carmichael, Stuart Gorrell)
5. Rockin Chair (Hoagy Carmichael)
6. A Little Jive is Good for You (Ralph Yaw, Ralph Waters)
7. Youve Changed (Carl Fischer, Bill Carey)
1. Babs (Fred E. Ahlert, Joe Young)
2. Scotchin with the Soda (W. Jack Riley)
3. Slow Down (Redd Evans)
4. Early Morning Blues (Nat Cole)
5. The Romany Room is Jumpin (Nat Cole)
6. This Will Make You Laugh (Irene Higginbotham)
7. Stop! The Red Lights On (Joseph Taps Miller)
8. Hit the Ramp (Nat Cole, Oscar Moore)
9. I Like to Riff (Nat Cole)
1. Call the Police (Nat Cole)
2. Are You Fer It? (Nat Cole, Carl Sigman)
3. That Aint Right (Nat Cole)
4. Hit That Jive, Jack (John Alston, Campbell Skeets Tolbert)
5. Indiana (James F. Hanley, Ballard MacDonald)
6. I Cant Get Started (Vernon Duke, Ira Gershwin)
1. Tea for Two (Vincent Youmans, Irving Caesar)
2. Body and Soul (Johnny Green, Edward Heyman, Robert Sour, Frank Eyton)
3. Vom, Vim, Veedle (Robert Scherman, Frankie Jaxon)
4. All for You (Robert Scherman)
5. Hip, Hip, Hooray (Henry Nemo, Milt Ebbins)
6. I Know That You Know (Vincent Youmans, Anne Caldwell)
7. Im Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town (William Weldon, Andy Razaf)
1. Pitchin Up a Boogie (Nat Cole)
2. Im Lost (Otis René)
3. Beautiful Moons Ago (Oscar Moore, Nat Cole)
4. Lets Spring One (Otis René)
5. Slender, Tender, and Tall (Mike Jackson, Hughie Prince)
6. Ive Found a New Baby (Jack Palmer, Spencer Williams)
7. Rosetta (Earl Hines, Henri Woode)
1. Sweet Lorraine (Mitchell Parish, Cliff Burwell)
2. I Blowed and Gone (Harry Sweets Edison)
3. Solid Potato Salad (Don Raye, Gene DePaul, Hughie Prince)
4. F.S.T. (Fine, Sweet & Tasty) (Nat Cole)
5. Got a Penny (Robert Scherman, Henry May)
6. Lets Pretend (Robert Scherman)
7. My Lips Remember Your Kisses (Robert Scherman, Ben Siegel, Henry May)
8. Im an Errand Boy for Rhythm (Nat Cole)
9. Straighten up and Fly Right (Irving Mills, Nat Cole)
1. Honey Hush (Nat Cole)
2. By the River St. Marie (Harry Warren, Edgar Leslie)
3. I Like to Riff (Nat Cole)
4. Black Spider Stomp (Nat Cole, Oscar Moore)
5. Sweet Lorraine (Mitchell Parish, Cliff Burwell)
6. Early Morning Blues (Nat Cole)
7. Gone with the Draft (Earl Dramin, Wesley Prince, Nat Cole)
8. Trompin (unknown)
9. Sweet Lorraine (Mitchell Parish, Cliff Burwell)
10. Gone with the Draft (Earl Dramin, Wesley Prince, Nat Cole)
1. Scotchin with the Soda (W. Jack Riley)
2. Gone with the Draft (Earl Dramin, Wesley Prince, Nat Cole)
3. The Romany Room is Jumpin (Nat Cole)
4. Hit That Jive, Jack (John Alston, Campbell Skeets Tolbert)
5. Beautiful Moons Ago (Oscar Moore, Nat Cole)
6. Honeysuckle Rose (Thomas Fats Waller, Andy Razaf)
7. I Know That You Know (Vincent Youmans, Anne Caldwell)
8. Solid Potato Salad (Don Raye, Gene DePaul, Hughie Prince)
9. My Lips Remember Your Kisses (Robert Scherman, Ben Siegel, Henry May)
10. Straighten up and Fly Right (Irving Mills, Nat Cole)