This Live at the Circle Room date has been issued before, but the bonus material of the same band from a later date makes this an extra special set. For starters, the Circle Room, in the Hotel La Salle in Milwaukee, was the town's premier jazz spot in 1946. The first 17 tracks on this CD come from four performances between September 21 and 25 of that year. Cole, with Oscar Moore and Johnny Miller, had begin his singing career in earnest, and playing in front of a lounge crowd seemed like the most natural thing in the world for him. Indeed, as bottles click, and the periodic murmur of voices in the foreground appear in the mix, the listener will be transported into Cole's magical space. From Ellington's "C Jam Blues," to "I'm in the Mood for Love," "I'm Thru With Love," and "Sweet Georgia Brown," the Cole trio kicks it with grace and elegance.
Pianist/vocalist Diana Krall pays tribute to the Nat King Cole Trio on her Impulse! set. In general, the medium and up-tempo tunes work best, particularly such hot ditties as "I'm an Errand Girl for Rhythm," "Frim Fram Sauce," and "Hit That Jive Jack." Krall does not attempt to directly copy Cole much (either pianistically or vocally), although his influence is obviously felt on some of the songs. The slow ballads are actually as reminiscent of Shirley Horn as Cole, particularly the somber "I'm Through With Love" and "If I Had You." Guitarist Russell Malone gets some solo space on many of the songs and joins in on the group vocal of "Hit That Jive Jack," although it is surprising that he had no other opportunities to interact vocally with Krall; a duet could have been delightful. Bassist Paul Keller is fine in support, pianist Benny Green backs Krall's vocal on "If I Had You," and percussionist Steve Kroon is added on one song. Overall, this is a tasteful effort that succeeds.
Capitol Records took This Is Sinatra!, a compilation album, into the Top Ten in early 1957, which probably prompted the label to assemble a similar collection, This Is Nat "King" Cole, later in the year. Consisting of tracks not previously issued on a Cole LP, the disc contains seven recent Billboard singles chart entries among its 12 selections – "Too Young to Go Steady" (which reached number 21), "Forgive My Heart" (13), "Nothing Ever Changes My Love for You" (72), "To the Ends of the Earth" (25), "I'm Gonna Laugh You Right Out of My Life" (57), "Someone You Love" (13), and "Never Let Me Go" (79) – while an eighth song, "That's All," was the B-side of the 1953 Top 20 hit "Lover, Come Back to Me!" "Too Young to Go Steady," which peaked in April 1956, turned out to be all that was really heard of a stage musical intended for Broadway, Strip for Action, with songs by Jimmy McHugh and Harold Adamson, which closed out of town. "I Just Found Out About Love" and "Love Me as Though There Were No Tomorrow," two more songs from that ill-fated show, are among the previously unheard tracks unearthed for this compilation.