Nat King Cole
Nat King Cole's great piano work with his jazz trio got overshadowed by his massive vocal success in the 1950s yet each phase of his career offers up so many riches that it proves that the lines between jazz and popular music just don't matter. Cole's easygoing vocals during the '40s matched his piano style charm for charm and his "lock-handed" approach and supple arrangements influenced everyone from Oscar Peterson to Diana Krall. But by the early 1950s, Cole weaned himself from the trio when his orchestrated and Big Band records sold in the millions. Thankfully, Cole's dreamy vocals just kept getting better and better when he didn't have the keyboard to preoccupy him and his concept albums for Capitol rank up there with Frank Sinatra's and Peggy Lee's in complete perfection. "Perfection" may just be the only word that can describe the true King's music.