Nick Rossi Praises Jazz Guitarist Oscar Moore in Video for New Nat King Cole Box Set

Oscar Moore's playing "provided a template for how the guitar functions in a modern jazz setting," according to Rossi.
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Check out this new video in which San Francisco–based guitarist, writer and historian Nick Rossi discusses the playing and importance of guitarist Oscar Moore, who performed with the Nat King Cole Trio, the seminal combo that put Cole on the map with a swinging combination of jazz, jive and pop.

The video is being released in conjunction with the new Nat King Cole boxed set Hittin’ the Ramp: The Early Years (1936-1943) from Resonance Records, the Los Angeles-based independent jazz label noted for its historical releases. Available in both seven-CD and limited-edition 10-LP sets, it offers the first in-depth survey of Cole’s work in the years preceding the great singer-pianist’s long hit-making tenure at Capitol Records and compiles nearly 200 pre-Capitol tracks. 

The expansive collection - which includes several previously unreleased studio sides, transcriptions and private recordings - is the first major overview of Cole’s earliest work to be produced in conjunction with the musician’s estate. 

The majority of the set’s tracks focus on the first work by the King Cole Trio, with an emphasis on his simpatico creative partnership with Moore, the trio’s longtime guitarist.

moore and cole gp

In his engrossing appreciation of Moore in the notes for the collection, Nick Rossi explains that Moore’s 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.”

The set’s extensive booklet also includes interviews and statements by Johnny Mathis, Tony Bennett, Quincy Jones, Harry Belafonte, Freddy Cole and many others.

The newly discovered selections include several performances that were not known to exist before research for the boxed set began. These include a privately recorded number, “The Romany Room Is Jumping,” a homage to the titular Washington, D.C., club that hosted Cole’s group, the hitherto unheard Cinematone transcription “Trompin’” and an unreleased 1940 trio rendering of Trummy Young’s “Whatcha’ Know Joe.”

“Although nothing on this package can be described as ‘common,’ these are some of the rarest Cole items known to exist,” writes co-producer and historian Will Friedwald.

The limited-edition 180-gram 10-LP set was mastered by Matt Lutthans at Cohearant Audio with impeccable sound restoration by Lutthans and Doug Pomeroy. The vinyl will be pressed at esteemed audiophile record manufacturer RTI (Record Technology Inc.) at 33 1/3 rpm.