There are good Soundies, great Soundies, and those that are important far beyond three minutes of joyful entertainment. That is certainly true of the 1945 series of Soundies, five in all, featuring Nat “King” Cole.
“Frim Fram Sauce” was produced in November 1945, an important time in American popular music. Swing, sweet and hot, was still predominant, with modern jazz starting to eke out a listening corner for those wanting something new. More important, however, the focus of popular music was quickly shifting to vocalists, with romantic crooners near the top of the heap. Frank Sinatra was now a solo act, as were Dick Haymes, Peggy Lee, and Jo Stafford. Billy Eckstine would follow soon.
These 1945 Nat Cole Soundies include two up-tempo, jivy performances that look
Back to the earlier 1940s and spotlight Cole’s influential jazz piano style. The other three, slower in tempo, showcase Cole as a solo vocalist, a singer on the cusp of becoming one of the most beloved balladeers in popular music.
Apart from Cole’s swinging approach to the vocal, even at a slower tempo, there are several other things to look and listen for. At one point Cole glances at a Panoram in the cafe and sees himself and the trio playing the song we are listening to. He is perplexed, as are we. Oscar Moore, one of the finest guitarists in jazz, is heard briefly, appearing on the Panoram screen. The waiter who appears at the end of the Soundie is pianist and (future) vocal coach Phil Moore. Shirley Johnson, who is given screen credit, is one of the two females sitting at the bar.
A superior Soundie, I would argue, and while we are listening, an order of frim fram sauce for me, please, with chafafa on the side!