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The Young Nat Gonella 1930-1936

The Young Nat Gonella 1930-1936

Nat Gonella

Label: Retrieval
Format: CD
Barcode: 0608917902228
barcode
Catalog number: RTR 79022
Releasedate: 23-08-11
This collection brings together some highspots from his early recording career, including some real rarities. Among them are a previously unissued take of his famous set piece “Troublesome  Trumpet”, a thought-to-be unissued side with Ray Noble, and a rejected side  with Carson Robison. Here too are the very rare sessions for the Oriole label with Stanley Black’s Modernists and singer Nan Blakstone, plus Nat’s original versions of his famous signature tune “Georgia On My Mind” and his 1975  Dutch chart hit “Oh, Mo’nah”. All of these, plus 15 more classics in sparkling new transfers by John R. T. Davies make this CD a must for all Nat Gonella fans.
  • Nat Gonella in his younger years
  • With unissued material
  • Original recordings between 1930 and 1936
  • Featuring the original "Oh Mo'nah!"
  • Gonella was not only a trumpettist and mellophonist, but also a conductor and singer
  • Nat was Britains first major jazz star
Small in stature but large in talent, trumpeter/singer Nat Gonella was Britain’s first major jazz star . Born in London on 7th March 1908, he made his first records in 1930 with Billy Cotton’s band and his last in 1998, a year before his death on 6th August 1999 at the age of 91. This collection brings together some highspots from his early recording career, including some real rarities. Among them are a previously unissued take of his famous set piece “Troublesome  Trumpet”, a thought-to-be unissued side with Ray Noble, and a rejected side  with Carson Robison. Here too are the very rare sessions for the Oriole label with Stanley Black’s Modernists and singer Nan Blakstone, plus Nat’s original versions of his famous signature tune “Georgia On My Mind” and his 1975  Dutch chart hit “Oh, Mo’nah”. All of these, plus 15 more classics in sparkling new transfers by John R. T. Davies make this CD a must for all Nat Gonella fans.
Whenever the diminutive affable ghost of Britain’s first great jazz trumpeter chooses to take a stroll around Gosport – that compact coastal resort across the ferry from Portsmouth – he no doubt allows himself one more approving nod of acknowledgement that his old home has turned, once and for all, into Nat Gonella town. For everywhere there are reminders of his lifetime of achievement. Outside Gosport Town Hall stretches ‘Nat Gonella Square’; an elegant paved precinct, lined with trees and greenery. At its sideyards from a flagpole and fluttering Union Jack‑ stands an oak‑framed storyboard telling the story of the Georgia Boy from London, and his Square, proudly signed above. From the nearby Georgian Suite of the Thorngate Halls (where the first annual Nat Gonelle Memorial Concert was played in 1999) stretches a great garden with benches and a tree dedicated to his memory. And even a favourite bench where he sat outside his last retirement home, Raglan Court, is brass plaqued with trumpet memorial standing at its side. Seldom, if perhaps ever, has public affection demonstrated itself so completely for a favourite son.

A son who, of course, was a hero too. Nat Gonella’s career was not only its own monument to British jazz, but a vivid demonstration of the art of survival against popular art most insidious enemies: time and fashion. Britain’s first jazz trumpeter to achieve popular stardom was a household name throughout the 1930s, and even after the postwar popular musical world around him had moved on, he continued – for almost three decades – to plough his own determined entertainer’s furrow, doing what came (in a favourite word of his) ‘naturally’.

Ten years after the Beatles had conclusively changed the face of popular music for ever, Nat Gonella’s decision to retire (with proper regard to British convention, at the age of sixty‑ five, in 1973) might have seemed sensible, if not inevitable. But retirement was never much more than in his mind. And remarkably still, he continued to hit the front pages; two years later in 1975 an unscheduled re‑recording of his massive 1931 hit with Roy Fox “Oh Monah” (this time with Ted Canton’s jazz Band) climbed to number five in the Dutch hit parade. Occasional returns to performance turned back into regular ones after the death of his third wife Dorothy in 1995. And in 1997 – long after he had laid his trumpet in its case for ever – our heroic survivor found himself back at the top of Britain’s chart malgre lui as trumpet contributor to ‘Your Woman’, a best selling single by ‘White Town’ whose creator Jyoti Mishra spotted a Gonella phrase amid a 1932 Lew Stone recording and ‘sampled’ it into his own 1997 creation. It just seemed that, try as he might, Nat Gonella couldn’t stay away from the headlines for long. I don’t think it would have bothered him if the reverse had been true. To begin with, the kind of fame that Nat enjoyed during his twenties and thirties would have satisfied a brace of pop superstars later on. But more importantly, Nat himself never chased fame for its own sake. Seventy years of doing things his way never struck him as some sort of highflown artistic crusade. Humphrey Lyttelton tells the story of his one‑time role model coming out to play later in life for the down‑to‑earth self‑confessed reason than “it helps with a few bills!”. Less indeed, even, than his great inspiration Louis Armstrong was Nat concerned with weighty aesthetic matters, Some years ago I asked him if, like Louis, he’d experienced that ‘awful urge’ to play the trumpet, and his response was immediate. “No!” said Nat. “I wanted the uniform! I think it was the Highgate Brass Band. We played over in North London, at Parliament Hill!”.