Nat King Cole Returns to the Charts With 'Live at the Blue Note Chicago'

The album also landed on several Billboard charts, including #4 Jazz Album, #6 Vinyl Album Sales, #3 Indie Store Album Sales and more.

By: Jun. 13, 2024
Nat King Cole Returns to the Charts With 'Live at the Blue Note Chicago'
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Nat King Cole has earned the #1 album on the Luminate Current Traditional Jazz Album chart with Nat King Cole Live at the Blue Note Chicago. Released May 31 via Iconic Artists Group, the album also landed on several Billboard charts, including #4 Jazz Album, #6 Vinyl Album Sales, #3 Indie Store Album Sales, #20 Current Album Sales, #22 Album Sales. 

This marks multiple times the velvety-voiced entertainer has appeared on the charts in the last six months, nearly 60 years since his passing. Live at the Blue Note, first released on Record Store Day 2024, debuted on Billboard’s Jazz chart, Album Sales, Current Album Sales, and on Luminate’s Traditional Jazz Albums chart. During the holiday season, Nat’s Christmas Song album topped out at #4 on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums chart for week ending December 28. Forbes recently wrote about Nat’s return to the charts; read here.

“Yet again, Nat proves that he’s an unbelievable talent who continues to speak to new generations,” says Jimmy Edwards, President of Iconic Artists Group. “Iconic is so proud to shepherd this release and bring this rare and intimate performance to the world.”

On July 10, the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles will host a panel discussion celebrating Nat King Cole Live at the Blue Note Chicago with moderator Steve Hochman along with restoration audio engineer and producer James Sáez, Michael Bearden, who has worked as Music Director for over 500 artists, including Madonna, J Lo, Michael Jackson, and currently Lady Gaga, and producer/multi-instrumentalist/singer-songwriter Dapo Torimiro, who has written songs with Justin Bieber, Frank Ocean, Babyface, and more. Tickets are available here.

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 this “time capsule” (Analog Planet). 

The set boasts detailed notes about the restoration process from the original dual mono recordings by audio engineer and producer James Sáez, who spent weeks working on a sequence that followed Cole’s original set lists, including transitions, crowd participations, and introductions during the shows. 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 numerous 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 Great American Songbook.

Nat King Cole Live at the Blue Note Chicago Tracklisting:

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

About Nat King Cole

One of the most identifiable and memorable voices of the 20th century, Nat King Cole recorded nearly 40 albums and over 150 singles that reached Billboard’s pop, R&B, and country charts and sold more than 50 million copies. As the first Black man to host a radio show and a national television show, NBC’s “The Nat King Cole Show,” he was a civil rights pioneer. Cole appeared in several films, including  St. Louis Blues and Cat Ballou. He won the Grammy® Award for Best Performance for “Midnight Flyer” and was honored with a Special Achievement Award from the Golden Globes. He was posthumously awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from NARAS and inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.


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