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Thread: Nat King Cole E-mando?

  1. #1
    Registered User Tom Wright's Avatar
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    Default Nat King Cole E-mando?

    While listening to my favorite jazz station I heard this classic version of Rte 66, Nat King Cole Trio. The solo of his guitar player did not sound like either a guitar, or a guitar solo. It sounds like electric mandolin taking a solo at about 1:40 in this YouTube version of the same recording. Not only is the tone and range very mandolin, the notes are very un-guitar, and not that clever. Did his normal guitar player switch to mando for this recording? I can't find info on it.

    The song is in G, a mando-friendly key. Playing along with the solo it lays right in mando range, as do the comping chords that you hear fitting with piano. I am sure the player begins on 7th fret A on the D string.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCeGi6a-eK4
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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Nat King Cole E-mando?

    They recorded it twice in 1946, at a March session (the hit version) and again in an April session. There doesn't appear to be anything in the session notes about a mandolin. Oscar Moore was a heck of a guitarist and could certainly play up the neck as well as anyone. I do agree that the solo sounds very mandophonic. http://apileocole.alongthehall.com/s...ssion1946.html
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  4. #3
    Registered User Tom Wright's Avatar
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    Default Re: Nat King Cole E-mando?

    This video of Nat doing it live, with (I assume) Oscar Moore standing behind him, has stylish and sweet-toned guitar playing. Other songs I have heard from his trio have equally elegant playing from the guitar. The previous Rte 66 recording has a (putting it bluntly) pretty weak and unconvincing solo. The tone is thin and the notes meh. That's why I noticed it. Not exactly Tiny Moore-level playing, which is why I wondered if Oscar was just trying the emando idea.


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    Default Re: Nat King Cole E-mando?

    You've one attentive ear! The guitarist in the video is Irving Ashby - but he came after Oscar Moore left the trio. Google Oscar Moore and you'll see you'll see him playing a prototype telecaster with Nat a few years later on. Any connection to Western Swing? These recordings were made in NYC in the late 40's

    What a creative time !

    But getting back to how it lays out on the mandolin - how could you replicate those sweet guitar 9ths & 6ths - 1st finger and 3rd finger barres on the mandolin?

    If anybody can do it you can Tom .........
    Last edited by des; Oct-21-2016 at 2:49pm. Reason: attempting to clarify

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    Registered User Tom Wright's Avatar
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    Default Re: Nat King Cole E-mando?

    6th and 9th chords aren't a problem, but I hear little of that from the picker. Nat starts off without any help--it's all piano and bass until the chorus. The kicks in the chorus that answer the voice---daah, da-da----daah, da-da---are simple 6ths. In particular, it is x-2-3-x (daah) followed by x-0-2-x (da) and 4-5-x-x (da).

    The lowest pitch in the solo is the open G. The final riff, during the turnaround, is x-2-x-x----x-2-x-x----x-x-2-x, x-2-x-x, followed by a fret lower, x-1-x-x, etc. (E, E, B-E----Eb, Eb, Bb-Eb). Just sounds like a beginner, not a real mando picker. If Moore was hanging around with solid-body pickers he might have tried a Gibson emando, or maybe a Bigsby.

    Here's a nice 6th chord for G ---4-2-5-x, letting the bass handle the tonic. It moves smoothly into 3-2-5-x for a C9, and also connects easily to 5-4-5-x for D7.

    For 5- or 10-string I like 7-4-2-2-x as G6, or 5-4-5-2-x as G7 in Rte 66.
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    Default Re: Nat King Cole E-mando?

    Well, it sounds like Oscar Moore on electric guitar to me. Cole Trio, based on my listening, often split up the sound spectrum with bass on the bottom, piano in the middle, and guitar on top. That may create the impression of electric mandolin.

    I think it is unlikely that Moore played electric mandolin on this or any other cut. If he had, I think we would have heard about it. Moore, in those days unlike today, was a very well known guitarist, winner of Downbeat's Readers Poll, iirc, three years in a row circa the end of WWII. If he had played emando on Route 66, he would have quite likely needed to play it on the Cole Trio's many live dates. Moore was a Gibson guitar endorser. If he had played a Gibson e-mando on a big hit like this, I imagine Gibson would have been eager to promote that. It couldn't have been a Bigsby, since it seems that Paul Bigsby didn't start making e-mandos until a couple of years after Route 66 was recorded.

    There is plausibility and evidence for a Western Swing influence on CC and we know that CC had a big influence on Jimmy Wyble, Cameron Hill, Benny Garcia, and many more Western Swing and country guitarists. Oscar Moore, otoh, hooked up with Nat King Cole in 1936 in LA, some years before Western Swing took off on the West Coast. On the flip side, the 1943 NKC's "Straighten Up and Fly Right" was not only a tremendous hit, it was a crossover spending 6 weeks atop the Billboard country jukebox hit list. Oscar's playing, I think, would have been heard by rising country/western swing guitarists.

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    Default Re: Nat King Cole E-mando?

    Quote Originally Posted by des View Post
    Google Oscar Moore and you'll see you'll see him playing a prototype telecaster with Nat a few years later on.
    Yep...
    I have all the parts--including the clear pickguard sprayed gold from the backside--to replicate the Oscar guitar...
    Someday...


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    Default Re: Nat King Cole E-mando?

    What made me pause and ask the question was the limp playing in the Rte. 66 solo, which didn't impress me at all. Perhaps it wasn't publicized because it wasn't very satisfying.

    Here is Moore with Nat on "Better To Be By Yourself", using his big box with Charlie Christian pickup. A hot little solo, smoking technique, and sweet tone, too. Kicks in at 0:35.



    In this one, "I'm A Shy Guy", Moore has a less appealing tone, but still better than in the Rte 66 cut. The playing is fine. Look at 1:35.

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    Default Re: Nat King Cole E-mando?

    Oscar Moore is one of my favourite players. Irving Ashby was no slouch either - 1.33 proves this much!



    nigel

  11. #10

    Default Re: Nat King Cole E-mando?

    In the Irving Ashby video that Nigel posted, the 6ths and 9ths - if that's what I'm hearing .. it's a bit ambiguous - come in at about 1.17 for a couple of bars and are repeated sparingly again throughout. You can't see him playing at those moments, but I hear xxx555x xxx333x - middle finger and first finger barres. It's the basis of the riff that goes through the Rolling Stones version. I think it's one of those things where guitar tuning just works perfectly.
    Last edited by des; Nov-12-2016 at 3:47pm.

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    Registered User Tom Wright's Avatar
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    Default Re: Nat King Cole E-mando?

    I used to play guitar a lot, so I am familiar with the "sound" of guitar voicing, and guitar solo lines tend to show common elements. Irving Ashby's playing in the film short is typical comping and riffing. Also, in the other YouTubes, of Moore playing, the chords and solos are very typical guitar.

    The first one is the oddball. It could be Moore, but doesn't seem anything like the other playing I've heard on several Nat Cole recordings. And it lacks those rich 9th chords, being just the double stops one gets from basic mandolin playing, mainly 6ths, not even 3rds, in the comping. In fact, I hear no actual comping, just the kick riff. That's why I wonder.
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    Default Re: Nat King Cole E-mando?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Wright View Post
    The first one is the oddball. It could be Moore, but doesn't seem anything like the other playing I've heard on several Nat Cole recordings. And it lacks those rich 9th chords, being just the double stops one gets from basic mandolin playing, mainly 6ths, not even 3rds, in the comping. In fact, I hear no actual comping, just the kick riff. That's why I wonder.
    There sounds like some tremolo in there as well along with the somewhat awkward (for a pro on a recording) solo. It sounds to me like an e-mando (with its 5ths tuning) which could account for the uninspiring solo. He sounds like a guitarist trying to navigate 5ths tuning which is a whole other beast as we all know.

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  14. #13

    Default Re: Nat King Cole E-mando?

    Quote Originally Posted by StuartE View Post
    There is plausibility and evidence for a Western Swing influence on CC and we know that CC had a big influence on Jimmy Wyble, Cameron Hill, Benny Garcia, and many more Western Swing and country guitarists..
    CC is Charlie Christian right?
    Last edited by MikeEdgerton; Dec-27-2016 at 9:35pm. Reason: Fixed quote syntax

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    Default Re: Nat King Cole E-mando?

    Quote Originally Posted by des View Post
    CC is Charlie Christian right?

    Yes.

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    Default Re: Nat King Cole E-mando?

    This solo has intrigued me for a long time too, mostly in terms of sound or tone. Thanks Tom and everybody for looking into it..I just did a little research, ok, on the internet, and somewhat surface scraping but maybe enough to indicate we still don't know exactly what made that sound. Consider:
    record made in 1946, Oscar Moore, incredible guitarist on guitar
    no electric mandos till '49, a Bigsby
    Telecaster guitar 1950
    Gibson solidbody electric mando '54
    Fender Electric mandolin 1956
    oddly enough, the solo cut in '46 does sound like it could have been played on the instrument that didn't come along till '56.
    I thought I once saw a picture of Oscar Moore with a noncut Gibson with a long pickup that tilted at a crazy angle...bass side close to the neck, treble side down by the bridge. Apparently a single coil. Just looked at a picture of one and it was called a 1940 ES-300.Could that have been it??
    The great jazz guitarist Tim Lerch who plays with Pearl Django recently put up some tracks where he tunes a Telecaster up a major 3rd. That yielded an electric mandolin sound of sorts, enough to drive me to the research which tells me that Oscar Moore couldn't have played a Tele tuned high or otherwise in '46.
    A fellow mandolinist here turned me on to a Delmore Brothers track , late 40's, very early '50's(?) with Jethro playing the hook and hot solo on an electric mando. But what kind? Same problem--most of the instruments we associate with the sound were not in production at the time of the recording. Probably in either instance we need to look at the possibility of some kind of hollow Gibson mandolin with single coil pickup and single strings..
    Regarding the influence of Western Swing on Charlie Christian...there is a regional sound there, but I think it was Charlie influencing Western Swing. A box set release on CC had an introduction by Les Paul where he chronicles driving on a whim to the West, ending up at Cain's and seeing Charlie sitting in with Bob Wills! That story was recently debunked as mythology. I wish it was true and that we could all hear it! I know Tiny dug Charlie Christian as did Barney Kessel and Herb Ellis, other cats from that part of the country. Johnny Gimble dug George Barnes, not necessarily over CC, but really dug him to the point you can hear it in his attack.
    Rave on Electric Mandolin History Detectives! I hope we can get to the bottom of all this!

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    Default Re: Nat King Cole E-mando?

    Charlie Christian and Eldon Shamblin both started out in Oklahoma about the same time. Eldon heard Charlie in the clubs down there but it dioes not appear they played together. Eldon also listened to Django Reinhardt and Joe Venuti as influences though he mostly drove the rhythm rather than be in the spotlight.

    Junior Barnard and Jimmy Wyble may have shown more direct influence by christian's melody lines

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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Nat King Cole E-mando?

    There certainly were electric mandolins before 1949. Gibson EM150 started production in 1936. There were also Vegas, Nationals, and Rickenbackers and a few others. I have three e-mandos from the '30s in the music room as we speak.
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  22. #18
    Registered User Tom Wright's Avatar
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    Default Re: Nat King Cole E-mando?

    Great info, Don.

    Thanks Martin, too.

    I can just lay that solo down with zero effort, it's right where a mando-picker would play. But more compelling for me is the accompaniment, which is just those convenient 6ths. 6ths are ok on guitar but require extra effort to avoid sounding the intervening string---a guitarist will use the 3-note triad unless melody demands otherwise, which the player might have done.

    I will say the CC pickup tone from Moore is a bit twangy, but the sustain and attack are so mando on that solo I just can't accept it was a guitar. Listening again, I will say the second phrase in the solo, arpeggio from low G, would be very awkward on guitar, but is elementary on mandolin.
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    Default Re: Nat King Cole E-mando?

    On a slightly off topic note, I talked to Tiny Moore about his influences. He mentioned Eldon Shamblin and Charlie Christian, which wasn't surprising. Also early 1950s playing of Django Reinhardt on electric guitar. Very influential to him, and swing and country guitar soloists he knew. [Les Paul and Chet Atkins for example though he didn't mention them]. I don't know if people who aren't hot club players listen to Django much today. They certainly did then.

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