On June 10, 1956, Nat King Cole guested on Ed Sullivan’s famous Sunday night TV broadcast. Sullivan wisely asked Nat to do a piano instrumental–no vocals necessary. The song chosen was ‘Just One Of Those Things’ and, to put it mildly, Nat kills it. This is a superb clip as Nat cheats out in order to allow the cameras to see his hands play. Chorus after chorus is energetic and inventive and one can see why Oscar Peterson–among many others–ranked Cole’s piano playing as a major influence on his own. 1956 was a tumultuous year for Cole–in April, just three months prior to this appearance, he was attacked by a group of white men while singing with Ted Heath’s orchestra in Birmingham, Alabama (where else?). Aren’t people dreadful? Cole was nothing but purity and beauty and for this he somehow provoked moronic rage and disapproval. Somehow he shook it off and gave this performance (I myself would have still been cowering behind tightly locked doors) and in November of that year began hosting his own TV variety show, which in itself caused its own stupid controversy. (It was also the year that he released one of the most revered LPs in jazz history, ‘After Midnight’). Putting all of that aside for three plus minutes, hit the play button and dig his rendition of the Cole Porter evergreen. Truly ‘the art of excellence’.


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