Full Name: Nathaniel Charles Gonella
Lived: March 7, 1908 – August 6, 1998
Summary: English jazz trumpeter, bandleader and vocalist best known for his work with the band he formed in 1935, the Georgians, with whom he played during the 1930s British dance band era.
Musical style notes: punchy, rhythmic and bright horn playing and catchy vocal scat that is similar to that of his hero Louis Armstrong – albeit with a distinctly British accent and peculiar sense of humor
Played with: St Mary’s Guardian School Brass Band, Archie Pitt’s Busby Boy’s Band (1924-1928), Bobby Bryden’s Louisville Band (1928-29), pianist Archie Alexander, Billy Cotton Band (1929), the big bands of Roy Fox, Ray Noble and Lew Stone, Nat Gonella and his Georgians
As a young musician playing in Archie Pitt’s Busby Boy’s Band, Nat received a used phonograph and a collection of jazz records, including one by coronet player Bix Biderbecke, as a gift from the bandleader’s wife, stage choreographer Gracie Fields. Shortly thereafter, Nat discovered the New Orleans jazz sound of Armstrong and transcribed and learned all his idol’s solos by heart. When Armstrong visited London in 1932, Gonella met his hero by convincing a local music shop to let him deliver Armstrong’s trumpet, left at the shop for cleaning, to him at his hotel room. Armstrong was amused and impressed by such an ardent fan, and the two became friends.