Jazz Music News: HITTIN’ THE RAMP: THE EARLY YEARS (1936-1943) is the first large-scale collection of the pivotal early recordings of Nat’s recording career.

This 10LP collection draws upon a wide range of sources, including many newly-discovered tracks unearthed for the first time from archives located all over the world, such as “Trompin” (jukebox-only release for Cinematone, 1939), “What’cha Know Joe” (undocumented radio performance, 1940 — now the earliest known recording of Nat “on the air”), “The Romany Room is Jumpin’” (private recording, 1941) and “Beautiful Moons Ago” (longer alternate take, 1943). Sessions include Nat at age 17, playing piano in his brother’s band in Chicago, 1936; the first King Cole Trio recordings from 1938, made for radio broadcdast only, for Standard Transcriptions; further radio transcription sessions for Standard, Davis & Schwegler, Keystone, plus his first (uncredited) session for MacGregor, with vocalist Anita Boyer; the Ammor Records Session (Spring 1940 – the first commercial-release sessions for the trio), the Decca Recordings (1940-41), the small-label sessions for Excelsior and Premier labels (1943), many previously-uncirculating Armed Forces Radio performances, and, with producer Norman Granz at the helm, early jazz sessions with Lester Young (Granz historic, first session as a producer) and Dexter Gordon, originally released on Philo and Mercury, respectively. 

Boasting an extensive 60+ page booklet with rare photographs; essays by acclaimed author Will Friedwald and guitarist Nick Rossi (with a special focus on Oscar Moore); plus interviews and testimonials from Johnny Mathis, Tony Bennett, Quincy Jones, Harry Belafonte, John Pizzarelli, Freddy Cole, Michael Feinstein and many others.

Hittin’ the Ramp features new remastering from original source disks transferred for this set from a number of personal collections and from the archives at University of California – Santa Barbara, The Institute for Jazz Studies at Rutgers University, the the CU Boulder American Music Research Center, and the Library of Congress. 

Celebrate Nat King Cole’s centennial in 2019 with this definitive early years multi-disc box set. This is the origin story of a great artist just as he was just “hittin’ the ramp,” launching a distinctive style that would quickly become famous the world over. 

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Honey Hush 2:52, 1936, Decca master take (Side 1 Track 1)
  2. Stompin at the Panama (Skollers Shuffle) 2:59, 1936, Decca master take (Side 1 Track 2)
  3. Bedtime (Sleepy Moan) 2:54, 1936, Decca master take (Side 1 Track 3)
  4. Thunder 1936, Decca master take (Side 1 Track 4)
  5. Mutiny in the Nursery 2:52, 1938, Standard transcription (Side 1 Track 5)
  6. F.D.R. Jones 3:10, 1938, Standard transcription (Side 1 Track 6)
  7. The Sheik of Araby 2:17, 1938, Standard transcription (Side 1 Track 7)
  8. The Blue Danube 2:50, 1938, Standard transcription (Side 1 Track 8)
  9. Button, Button 2:52, 1938, Standard transcription (Side 1 Track 9)
  10. Jingle Bells 1938, Standard transcription (Side 2 Track 1)
  11. Swanee River 1938, Standard transcription (Side 2 Track 2)
  12. With Plenty of Money and You 2:15, 1938, Standard transcription (Side 2 Track 3)
  13. Dont Blame Me 2:26, 1938, Standard transcription (Side 2 Track 4)
  14. Lullaby in Rhythm 2:48, 1938, Standard transcription (Side 2 Track 5)
  15. Dark Rapture 3:13, 1938, Standard transcription (Side 2 Track 6)
  16. The Wiggly Walk 2:52, 1938, Standard transcription (Side 2 Track 7)
  17. Flea Hop 2:43, 1938, Standard transcription (Side 2 Track 8)
  18. Chopsticks 2:44, 1938, Standard transcription (Side 2 Track 9)
  19. Patty Cake, Patty Cake 2:43, 1938, Standard transcription (Side 2 Track 10)

Disc: 2

  1. Blue Skies 2:09, 1938, Standard transcription (Side 3 Track 1)
  2. Liza 2:58, 1938, Standard transcription (Side 3 Track 2)
  3. Three Blind Mice 2:08, 1938, Standard transcription (Side 3 Track 3)
  4. Caravan 2:17, 1938, Standard transcription (Side 3 Track 4)
  5. Theres No Anesthetic for Love 3:15, 1939, Davis & Schwegler transcription (Side 3 Track 5)
  6. Dixie Jamboree 3:04, 1939, Davis & Schwegler transcription (Side 3 Track 6)
  7. Ta-De – Ah 2:39, 1939, Davis & Schwegler transcription (Side 3 Track 7)
  8. Riffin at the Bar-B – Q 2:05, 1939, Davis & Schwegler transcription (Side 3 Track 8)
  9. Harlem Swing 2:30, 1939, Davis & Schwegler transcription (Side 3 Track 9)
  10. I Lost Control of Myself 3:16, 1939, Davis & Schwegler transcription (Side 3 Track 10)
  11. The Land of Make Believe 2:52, 1939, Davis & Schwegler transcription (Side 4 Track 1)
  12. That Please-Be-Mine – Able Feeling 2:15, 1939, Davis & Schwegler transcription (Side 4 Track 2)
  13. Dancing in the Street 3:09, 1939, Davis & Schwegler transcription (Side 4 Track 3)
  14. Youre So Different 3:02, 1939, Davis & Schwegler transcription (Side 4 Track 4)
  15. I Wouldnt Have Known It 2:33, 1939, Davis & Schwegler transcription (Side 4 Track 5)
  16. Lets Get Happy 2:18, 1939, Davis & Schwegler transcription (Side 4 Track 6)
  17. Undecided 2:26, 1939, Standard transcription (Side 4 Track 7)
  18. Taint What You Do 2:53, 1939, Standard transcription (Side 4 Track 8)
  19. Do You Wanna Jump, Children? 2:46, 1939, Standard transcription (Side 4 Track 9)
  20. Riffin in F Minor 2:06, 1939, Standard transcription (Side 4 Track 10)

Disc: 3

  1. Ol Man Mose Aint Dead 3:30, 1939, Standard transcription (Side 5 Track 1)
  2. Blue Lou 3:01, 1939, Standard transcription (Side 5 Track 2)
  3. Honey 2:11, 1939, Standard transcription (Side 5 Track 3)
  4. Russian Lullaby 2:07, 1939, Standard transcription (Side 5 Track 4)
  5. Georgie Porgie 2:23, 1939, Standard transcription (Side 5 Track 5)
  6. The Limp 2:52, 1939, Standard transcription (Side 5 Track 6)
  7. Snug as a Bug in a Rug 2:35, 1939, Standard transcription (Side 5 Track 7)
  8. Liebestraum 3:23, 1939, Standard transcription (Side 5 Track 8)
  9. Fidgety Joe 2:57, 1939, Standard transcription (Side 5 Track 9)
  10. Two Against One 3:00, 1939, Standard transcription (Side 6 Track 1)
  11. Some Like it Hot 3:09, 1939, Standard transcription (Side 6 Track 2)
  12. Crazy Rhythm 2:00, 1939, Standard transcription (Side 6 Track 3)
  13. Moonglow 2:57, 1939, Standard transcription (Side 6 Track 4)
  14. Dont Let That Moon Get Away 2:45, 1939, Standard transcription (Side 6 Track 5)
  15. My Blue Heaven 1:36, 1939, Standard transcription (Side 6 Track 6)
  16. I Was Doing Alright 2:17, 1939, Standard transcription (Side 6 Track 7)
  17. I Cant Get Started 2:41, 1939, Standard transcription (Side 6 Track 8)
  18. Old Man Moon 2:16, 1939, Standard transcription (Side 6 Track 9)
  19. Carry Me Back to Old Virginny 2:14, 1939, Standard transcription (Side 6 Track 10)

Disc: 4

  1. Moon Song 3:09; 1939, Standard transcription (Side 7 Track 1)
  2. Baby, Wont You Please Come Home 2:20, 1939, Standard transcription (Side 7 Track 2)
  3. Rosetta 2:11; 1939, Standard transcription (Side 7 Track 3)
  4. Trompin 2:46, 1939, Standard transcription (Side 7 Track 4)
  5. Youre My Life 2:54, 1939, Standard transcription (Side 7 Track 5)
  6. Hoy Soy 2:33, 1939, Standard transcription (Side 7 Track 6)
  7. Take Em 2:24, 1939, Standard transcription (Side 7 Track 7)
  8. Scategoria 2:32, 1939, Standard transcription (Side 7 Track 8)
  9. Rhythm Serenade 2:35, 1939, Standard transcription (Side 7 Track 9)
  10. Rib Town Shuffle 2:46, 1939, Standard transcription (Side 7 Track 10)
  11. Musicll Chase Your Blues Away 2:01, 1939, Standard transcription (Side 8 Track 1)
  12. Ill Gather Up My Memories 3:34, 1939, Standard transcription (Side 8 Track 2)
  13. A Fools Affair 3:34, 1939, Standard transcription (Side 8 Track 3)
  14. Jump, Jack, Jump 2:47, 1939, Standard transcription (Side 8 Track 4)
  15. I Knew a Time 3:05, 1939, Standard transcription (Side 8 Track 5)
  16. Mine Youll Always Be 3:19, 1939, Standard transcription (Side 8 Track 6)
  17. Doin the Bow Wow 2:44, 1939, Standard transcription (Side 8 Track 7)
  18. Lilla Mae 2:18, 1939, Standard transcription (Side 8 Track 8)

Disc: 5

  1. I Like to Riff 2:49, 1940, Ammo, master take (Side 9 Track 1)
  2. On the Sunny Side of the Street 2:55, 1940, Ammor master take (Side 9 Track 2)
  3. Black Spider Stomp 2:40, 1940, Ammor master take (Side 9 Track 3)
  4. By the River St. Marie 2:25, 1940, Ammor master take (Side 9 Track 4)
  5. Slew Foot Joe 2:14, 1940, Standard transcription (Side 9 Track 5)
  6. 1-2-3 – 4 2:09, 1940, Standard transcription (Side 9 Track 6)
  7. Crazy Bout Rhythm 2:04, 1940, Standard transcription (Side 9 Track 7)
  8. Off the Beam 2:18, 1940, Standard transcription (Side 9 Track 8)
  9. King Cole Blues 2:07, 1940, Standard transcription (Side 9 Track 9)
  10. Jivin with the Notes 2:01, 1940, Standard transcription (Side 9 Track 10)
  11. Never Mind, Baby 1:45, 1940, Keystone transcription (Side 9 Track 11)
  12. Im a Perfect Fool Over You 2:38, 1940, Keystone transcription (Side 10 Track 1)
  13. Lovely Little Person 2:23, 1940, Keystone transcription (Side 10 Track 2)
  14. Love Me Sooner 2:32, 1940, Keystone transcription (Side 10 Track 3)
  15. Sentimental Blue 2:44, 1940, Keystone transcription (Side 10 Track 4)
  16. Goin to Town with Honey 2:21, 1940, Keystone transcription (Side 10 Track 5)
  17. Syncopated Lullaby 1:51, 1940, Keystone transcription (Side 10 Track 6)
  18. Falling in and Out of Love 1:50, 1940, Keystone transcription (Side 10 Track 7)
  19. Lets Do Things 2:01, 1940, Keystone transcription (Side 10 Track 8)
  20. Jumpy Jitters 1:51, 1940, Keystone transcription (Side 10 Track 9)
  21. Nothing Ever Happens 2:35, 1940, Keystone transcription (Side 10 Track 10)
  22. Whatcha Doin to My Heart 1:37, 1940, Keystone transcription (Side 10 Track 11)

Disc: 6

  1. Bedtime 2:45, 1940, Standard transcription (Side 11 Track 1)
  2. Honey Hush 2:18, 1940, Standard transcription (Side 11 Track 2)
  3. French Toast 2:15, 1940, Standard transcription (Side 11 Track 3)
  4. Vine Street Jump 2:43, 1940, Standard transcription (Side 11 Track 4)
  5. B Flat 2:32, 1940, Standard transcription (Side 11 Track 5)
  6. You Send Me 2:11, 1940, Standard transcription (Side 11 Track 6)
  7. Love Is My Alibi 3:13, 1940, Standard transcription (Side 11 Track 7)
  8. Pogo Stick Bounce 2:19, 1940, Standard transcription (Side 11 Track 8)
  9. Whatcha Know, Joe? 2:36, 1940, unreleased radio broadcast (Side 11 Track 9)
  10. Sweet Lorraine 2:57, 1940, Decca master take (Side 11 Track 10)
  11. Honeysuckle Rose 2:34, 1940, Decca master take (Side 12 Track 1)
  12. Gone with the Draft 2:44, 1940, Decca master take (Side 12 Track 2)
  13. This Side Up 2:49, 1940, Decca master take (Side 12 Track 3)
  14. Jumpin with the Mop 2:26, 1941, Standard transcription (Side 12 Track 4)
  15. Jam Man 2:05, 1941, Standard transcription (Side 12 Track 5)
  16. Lets Try Again 3:05, 1941, Standard transcription (Side 12 Track 6)
  17. Fudge Wudge 3:51, 1941, Standard transcription (Side 12 Track 7)
  18. Smokey Joe 1:58, 1941, Standard transcription (Side 12 Track 8)
  19. Windy City Boogie Woogie 2:26, 1941, Standard transcription (Side 12 Track 9)
  20. Ode to a Wild Clam 2:26, 1941, Standard transcription (Side 12 Track 10)

Disc: 7

  1. Lets Try Again 3:10, 1941, MacGregor transcription (Side 13 Track 1)
  2. Whatcha Know, Joe? 2:12, 1941, MacGregor transcription (Side 13 Track 2)
  3. Lazy River 1:46, 1941, MacGregor transcription (Side 13 Track 3)
  4. Georgia on My Mind 2:45, 1941, MacGregor transcription (Side 13 Track 4)
  5. Rockin Chair 3:13, 1941, MacGregor transcription (Side 13 Track 5)
  6. A Little Jive Is Good for You 3:41, 1941, MacGregor transcription (Side 13 Track 6)
  7. Youve Changed 3:05, 1941, MacGregor transcription (Side 13 Track 7)
  8. Babs 2:27, 1941, Decca master take (Side 14 Track 1)
  9. Scotchin with the Soda 2:35, 1941, Decca master take (Side 14 Track 2)
  10. Slow Down 3:09, 1941, Decca master take (Side 14 Track 3)
  11. Early Morning Blues 2:46, 1941, Decca master take (Side 14 Track 4)
  12. The Romany Room Is Jumpin 2:30, 1941, unreleased private recording (Side 14 Track 5)
  13. This Will Make You Laugh 3:14, 1941, Decca master take (Side 14 Track 6)
  14. Stop! The Red Lights On 2:39, 1941, Decca master take (Side 14 Track 7)
  15. Hit the Ramp 3:21, 1941, Decca master take (Side 14 Track 8)
  16. I Like to Riff 2:48, 1941, Decca master take (Side 14 Track 9)

Disc: 8

  1. Call the Police 3:05, 1941, Decca master take (Side 15 Track 1)
  2. Are You Fer It? 3:08, 1941, Decca master take (Side 15 Track 2)
  3. That Aint Right 3:14, 1941, Decca master take (Side 15 Track 3)
  4. Hit That Jive, Jack 2:59, 1941, Decca master take (Side 15 Track 4)
  5. Indiana 4:53, 1942, Philo, w/Lester Young (Side 15 Track 5)
  6. I Cant Get Started 4:55, 1942, Philo, w/Lester Young (Side 15 Track 6)
  7. Tea for Two 4:47, 1942, Philo, w/Lester Young (Side 16 Track 1)
  8. Body and Soul 5:13, 1942, Philo, w/Lester Young (Side 16 Track 2)
  9. Vom, Vim, Veedle 3:02, 1942, Excelsior master take (Side 16 Track 3)
  10. All for You 3:28, 1942, Excelsior master take (Side 16 Track 4)
  11. Hip Hip Hooray 2:24, 1943, AFRS Jubilee #5 (Side 16 Track 5)
  12. I Know That You Know 2:10, 1943, AFRS Jubilee #5 (Side 16 Track 6)
  13. Im Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town 3:44, 1943, Live from the 331 Club (Side 16 Track 7)

Disc: 9

  1. Pitchin Up a Boogie 3:14, 1943, Excelsior master take (Side 17 Track 1)
  2. Im Lost 3:19, 1943, Excelsior master take (Side 17 Track 2)
  3. Beautiful Moons Ago 2:27, 1943, Excelsior master take (Side 17 Track 3)
  4. Lets Spring One 2:43, 1943, Excelsior master take (Side 17 Track 4)
  5. Slender, Tender, and Tall 2:06, 1943, AFRS Jubilee #29 (Side 17 Track 5)
  6. Ive Found a New Baby 4:44, 1943, Mercury, w/Dexter Gordon (Side 17 Track 6)
  7. Rosetta 5:10, 1943, Mercury, w/Dexter Gordon (Side 17 Track 7)
  8. Sweet Lorraine 4:56, 1943, Mercury, w/Dexter Gordon (Side 18 Track 1)
  9. I Blowed and Gone 4:47, 1943, Mercury, w/Dexter Gordon (Side 18 Track 2)
  10. Solid Potato Salad 2:07, 1943, AFRS Jubilee #36 (Side 18 Track 3)
  11. F.S.T. (Fine, Sweet & Tasty) 3:07, 1943, Premier master take (Side 18 Track 4)
  12. Got a Penny 2:37, 1943, Premier master take (Side 18 Track 5)
  13. Lets Pretend 3:18, 1943, Premier master take (Side 18 Track 6)
  14. My Lips Remember Your Kisses 3:11, 1943, Premier master take (Side 18 Track 7)
  15. Im an Errand Boy for Rhythm 1:51, 1943, AFRS Jubilee #51 (Side 18 Track 8)
  16. Straighten Up and Fly Right 2:45, 1943, AFRS Jubilee #51 (Side 18 Track 9)

Disc: 10

  1. Honey Hush 2:47, 1936, Decca alternate take (Side 19 Track 1)
  2. By the River St. Marie 2:12, 1938 Standard transcription (Side 19 Track 2)
  3. I Like to Riff 2:33, 1939, Standard transcription (Side 19 Track 3)
  4. Black Spider Stomp 2:54, 1939, Standard transcription (Side 19 Track 4)
  5. Sweet Lorraine 3:23, 1939, Standard transcription (Side 19 Track 5)
  6. Early Morning Blues 2:53, 1940, Standard transcription (Side 19 Track 6)
  7. Gone with the Draft 2:22, 1940, Standard transcription (Side 19 Track 7)
  8. Scotchin with the Soda 2:25, 1941, Standard transcription (Side 20 Track 1)
  9. Gone with the Draft 2:28, 1941, Standard transcription (Side 20 Track 2)
  10. The Romany Room Is Jumpin 2:33, 1941, unreleased recording, alternate take (Side 20 Track 3)
  11. Hit That Jive, Jack 2:16, 1942, AFRS Mail Call #16 (Side 20 Track 1) (Side 20 Track 4)
  12. Beautiful Moons Ago 3:36, 1943, Excelsior alternate take (Side 20 Track 5)
  13. Honeysuckle Rose 3:20, 1943, AFRS Jubilee #29 (Side 20 Track 6)
  14. I Know That You Know 2:53, 1943, AFRS Jubilee #36 (Side 20 Track 7)
  15. Solid Potato Salad 2:14, AFRS Command Performance #87 (Side 20 Track 8)
  16. My Lips Remember Your Kisses 3:07, 1943, Premier alternate take (Side 20 Track 9)
  17. Straighten Up and Fly Right 2:52, 1943, AFRS Personal Album #227 (Side 20 Track 10)

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