Nat Gonella, Georgia On My Mind

“Nat was the king and Armstrong was the emperor … he was the first musician in Britain to recognise the worth of Armstrong.” Humphrey Lyttelton

On the British jazz scene Nat Gonella was Number One Trumpeter. In addition to being a born showman, he was a paramount technician who wielded significant influence on successive generations of jazz trumpeters. Nat was a trumpet ace, bandleader and vocalist and in 1934 the Georgians (named after the hit recording Georgia on my Mind) sprang into being as a-band-within-a-band, a splinter group of the famous Lew Stone Orchestra.

Nat Gonella died aged 90 on August 6th 1998 and in his Guardian Obituary Digby Fairweather concluded “Nat was joyful company to all who knew him … a pragmatist, unweighed by ego, reluctant to say he was doing much more than having fun and paying a few bills along the way. And in return he was loved by everyone. No British jazz musician has left a more significant, yet un assuming, legacy of triumphant success.”

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Review "This is another first class reissue from Retrospective, superbly remastered by Alan Bunting with a clear open acoustic, and attractively packaged with a full discography and affectionate liner note by Peter Dempsey (except that it's incorrect to refer to Nat's speech impediment as a lisp, rather it was an inability to roll his Rs). Nat inspired a generation of trumpeters in England, not least Humphrey Lyttelton, and he had a devoted following for the best part of 60 years. He grew up in the dance band era, but he always played and sang in the jazz idiom. The coming into being of his group the Georgians in 1934 created the sort of showcase for his talents that his idol Louis enjoyed. In fact, the more I listen to these recordings the more I incline to the view that his tone was superior to that of Louis. The latter tended to be florid with an exaggerated vibrato, whereas Nat's playing was more sinewy, but no less impressive. Nat was a virtuoso of the highest order, and had he remained in New York in 1939 it's possible that he would have become an international star. Many of these numbers have been reissued on other labels, particularly Empress, EMI Gold and Vocalion, but this CD deserved five stars the first time round, and if it does not create too much duplication in your collection then you should buy it without hesitation." - Barry McCanna
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