Buddy Cole: Swingin’ at the Hammond Organ

Theatrical Hammond organ takes on standards

Edwin “Buddy” Cole’s Hammond albums are probably better known by sight than sound. The album covers – particularly Have Organ, Will Swing and Powerhouse! – are treasured icons of the space-age bachelor pad genre, seen by many, but actually heard by few. Surprisingly, the music inside isn’t particularly exotic. Cole was more of a lush, theater organ stylist (a job he’d actually held in the 1930s) than a bluesy howler, and though he had significant chops as a jazz pianist, they were spent mostly as an accompanist behind Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney and Nat King Cole (no relation). Here he sticks mostly to lyrical interpretations, though he does exercise the Hammond’s powerful sting, and adds some swinging bass lines and zesty percussion to the later arrangements.

Cole was prolific in his first few years recording with Capitol, releasing eight albums between 1958 and 1960, of which four are included here: 1958’s Have Swing, Will Travel, 1959’s Powerhouse! and Hot and Cole, and 1960’s Swing Fever. Given that the song lists stuck primarily to standards, the collection’s lack of chronological order (and the gaps in album sequence) will be noticed only by those who’ve lined up the original LPs by matrix number. The arrangements get quite a bit livelier by the last of the four albums, and cartoon fans will enjoy Cole’s take on Raymond Scott’s classic “Powerhouse.” Jasmine’s remastered all four albums in stereo for this bargain-priced set. [©2012 hyperbolium dot com]

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