Nat Gonella

Nat Gonella

English jazz trumpeter, bandleader, vocalist and melophonist
Date of Birth: 07.03.1908
Country: Great Britain

  1. Biography of Nat Gonella
  2. Early Life and Musical Beginnings
  3. Early Career and Rise to Fame
  4. Success with 'The Georgians'
  5. Service in World War II and Later Career
  6. Revival and Later Years
  7. Legacy and Death

Biography of Nat Gonella

Nat Gonella, an English jazz trumpeter, bandleader, vocalist, and mellophonist, is best known for his work with the big band 'The Georgians', which he founded. His vocal style was reminiscent of the legendary Louis Armstrong, but Nat achieved his greatest success as a bandleader and trumpeter. He had a significant influence on other jazz trumpeters, including Humphrey Lyttelton.

Nat Gonella

Early Life and Musical Beginnings

Nathaniel Charles 'Nat' Gonella was born on March 7, 1908, in a poor district of East London. He learned to play the cornet at St Mary's Guardian School in Islington. After receiving professional training as a furrier, Gonella worked in that profession for a while. In 1924, he joined Archie Pitt's 'Busby Boy's Band' and remained with them until 1928. During this time, Nat became familiar with early recordings of Armstrong and New Orleans jazz. He transcribed Armstrong's solos and learned them by heart.

Nat Gonella

Early Career and Rise to Fame

In 1928-1929, Gonella worked with Bob Bryden's 'Louisville Band', and towards the end of 1929, he became a member of Billy Cotton's group, which not only provided excellent performance opportunities but also allowed him to be featured on radio broadcasts. Gonella recorded his first jazz solo and left his vocal imprint on scat recordings. After a brief stint with Roy Fox in 1931, Nat remained with his group even after leadership rights were handed over to Lew Stone, a former pianist for Fox. It was in Fox's group that Gonella was able to establish his reputation.

Success with 'The Georgians'

Following a long-awaited meeting with his idol Armstrong, the publication of his instructional book 'Modern Style Trumpet Playing - A Comprehensive Course', and appearances in films such as 'Bitter Sweet' and 'The King's Cup', Gonella was ready for new achievements. In 1935, he formed his own band called 'The Georgians', borrowing the name from a very popular version of the song 'Georgia On My Mind' recorded by Stone in 1932. Initially, Nat's group performed within the framework of Stone's band before becoming a full-fledged musical unit.

Service in World War II and Later Career

With the onset of World War II, Gonella joined the army in 1941 and became one of the stars of the organization 'Stars in Battledress', responsible for entertaining troops and boosting morale. Serving in Europe and North Africa, Nat served as a personal assistant to Major Alexander Karet. After the war ended, Karet offered Gonella a more lucrative position to continue serving under him, but Nat politely declined to return to music. 'The Georgians' underwent transformations, and due to financial difficulties and changing musical tastes, Gonella tried his hand at bebop but quickly realized that this music was not for him. He returned to the entertainment scene in the 1950s and toured with various comedians, including Max Miller.

Revival and Later Years

The revival of traditional jazz in the late 1950s led to another resurgence of 'The Georgians', and the band enjoyed success until the arrival of The Beatles. In 1962, Gonella moved to Lancashire, where he regularly performed in clubs until his 65th birthday on March 7, 1973. After that, he decided to retire, but drummer Ted Easton managed to persuade him to play at Easton's club in Holland in the mid-1970s. Although revered for his virtuosity on the trumpet, Nat continued to sing. He moved to Gosport, Hampshire, in 1977, where in 1994, one of the squares was renamed in his honor.

Legacy and Death

Nat Gonella passed away in his home in Gosport on August 6, 1998, at the age of 91. He left behind a legacy of masterful trumpet playing and a unique vocal style that influenced generations of jazz musicians.