Nat King Cole

Called "the best friend a song ever had," Nathaniel Adams Cole was such a huge success in popular music that Capitol Records became known as “The House that Nat Built.” He was a leading jazz pianist, but it was his light and liquid singing of “Mona Lisa,” “Nature Boy,” and many other hits that won millions of fans in three decades. He's your No. 8 Essential Jazz Artist on WRTI 90.1

In 1946, Nat King Cole became the first recording artist to wrap his lush vocals around what would become a standard of the holiday season, "The Christmas Song." But that song was written by a different crooner: Mel Tormé.

NPR's Noel King spoke with Mel Tormé's youngest son, James — an accomplished jazz singer himself — to get the story behind the creation of this Christmas classic.

Jazz pianist and singer Nat "King" Cole, the first African American to host his own TV variety show in 1956, was known for his great talent and his grace, even in the face of mistreatment and racial discrimination. WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports on a new play that explores what this grace must have cost him.

Goblins and Ghosts. Mermaids and Princesses. Trick-or-treat comes next week and WRTI is getting ready to pass out tasty jazz nuggets. Here are some sweet indulgences – on the musical side.