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Freddy Cole is a swinging jazz pianist and vocalist and a true American treasure! The youngest brother of Nat King Cole, Freddy is one of the most compelling musical storytellers and a highly esteemed poet of the Great American Songbook. His suave, smoky, elegant vocals are among the most respected in jazz, and with his internationally renowned musical quartet, he promises a thrilling, swinging night with his signature class and style.
“I started playing piano at five or six,” Freddy recalls. “Music was all around me.” In the Chicago home of his youth, visitors included Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Lionel Hampton. He also credits Billy Eckstine as a major influence. “He was a fantastic entertainer,” Cole recalls. “I learned so much from just watching and being around him.” After a possible career with the National Football League was shelved due to a severe football-related hand injury, he began playing and singing in Chicago clubs as a teenager. Although he was ready to hit the road at eighteen, his mother intervened and he continued his musical education at the Roosevelt Institute in Chicago.
Cole moved to New York in 1951, where he studied at the Juilliard School of Music and found himself profoundly influenced by John Lewis, Oscar Peterson, and Teddy Wilson. He earned a master’s degree at the New England Conservatory of Music and then spent several months on the road as a member of Earl Bostic’s band, which also included Johnny Coles and Benny Golson.
In the 1970s, Cole recorded several albums for European companies, which helped him develop a loyal overseas following. He believes that becoming an international favorite made him “widen my scope a little bit.” He developed a stand-up act, had better rapport with audiences, and learned to sing in other languages. “It made me much more a performer.”
While there are certain unmistakable similarities in timbre with his brother Nat, Freddy’s voice is raspier, smokier, jazzier even. In truth, his phrasing is far closer to that of Frank Sinatra or Billie Holiday than that of his brother, and his timing swings even more. Freddy Cole’s vocals—suave, elegant, formidable, sometimes spoken and articulate—make him the most respected lyrical storyteller in jazz. His career continues to ascend as he has moved into the front ranks of America’s homegrown art form with a style and musical sophistication all his own.
Gorgeous autumnal baritone, expressive phrasing and pitch-perfect feel for jazz standards, pop tunes and love ballads.
Freddy Cole has an impeccable sense of swing. . . . He is, overall, the most maturely expressive male jazz singer of his generation, if not the best alive.
—New York Times