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Vocal Jazz - Released May 15, 2018 | HighNote Records

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Jazz - Released May 21, 2010 | Sonorama

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1964 | GRP

Freddy Cole may not have been as well known or quite as gifted as his brother Nat, but that doesn't mean he's not a brilliant singer and pianist. This 1964 date for Dot, with bassist Milt Hinton, Sam Taylor on tenor, Osie Johnson on drums, and alternating guitarists Barry Galbraith and Wally Richardson, is a case in point. This is Cole just playing and singing the swinging blues in a relaxed small-combo setting. His tune selection is flawlessly suited to his voice, a darkling instrument with a very slight roughness in its grain. The title track features a late-night, forlorn groove with the piano punching lines as Cole's vocal effortlessly floats on top and guitars and the rhythm section whisper in the background. "Black Night," with Taylor leading the parade, is on a more straight-up R&B tip, and Cole's vocal with its swinging ease and depth makes this a standout on an album full of them. Jimmy Witherspoon's "Rain Is Such a Lonesome Sound" is rawer and rougher, but his croon and growl still entwine effortlessly with the band's strut. Sam Chatmon's "This Life I'm Living" is a tough swaggering blues done in prime vintage '50s R&B style, with Cole's baritone digging deep into the lyric as his piano punches between his sung lines. Finally issued on CD in 2004 in completely remastered form as part of Verve's limited-edition Original Classics series, it's a stellar example of vocal jazz and blues with Cole's considerable gifts on full display. ~ Thom Jurek
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Vocal Jazz - Released May 5, 2016 | HighNote Records

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Vocal Jazz - Released June 29, 2004 | HighNote Records

One can sympathize with Freddie Cole's plight. The younger brother of Nat King Cole, Freddie has spent most of his life in his brother's shadow, even though Nat died in 1965. The problem is that Freddie is also a pianist/vocalist and sometimes performs similar material. In fact, the title of this CD is a bit absurd, since Cole is heard playing in the same type of group that Nat made famous (a trio with guitarist Ed Zad and bassist Eddie Edwards) and his repertoire includes such songs as "Home Fried Potatoes," "To Whom It May Concern," "The Best Man," and a ten-minute, six-song "Nat Cole Medley." Add to that such originals as "He Was the King" and "I'm Not My Brother, I'm Me," and one is not allowed to forget for a moment that Freddie was Nat's brother. Actually, Freddie has an older and raspier voice (which is natural, since he has outlived Nat) and his piano style is more tied to 1950s jazz (such as Red Garland) than to swing. This fairly definitive CD from Freddie Cole does give one a strong sampling of his talents. ~ Scott Yanow
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Vocal Jazz - Released July 14, 2009 | HighNote Records

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Vocal Jazz - Released September 23, 2014 | HighNote Records

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Vocal Jazz - Released August 23, 2011 | HighNote Records

Burnished and romantic, vocalist Freddy Cole's 2011 Highnote release Talk to Me features the master singer backed by his stellar working sextet featuring guitarist Randy Napoleon, pianist John Di Martino, bassist Elias Bailey, and drummer Curtis Boyd. Also featured here are the more than welcome talents of trumpeter Terell Stafford and saxophonist Harry Allen, who punctuate these arrangements with tasty, melodic, and swinging solos. Cole has long been lauded as the successor to the balladeer throne once held by such icons as Nat King Cole, Billy Eckstine, Joe Williams, and Johnny Hartman. In that sense, Talk to Me does nothing if not reinforce this notion. From his lead-off take on the lush and urbane "Mam'selle," to his inspired after-hours jazz reworking of not one but two Bill Withers songs in "Lovely Day" and the laid-back Latin number "Can We Pretend?," Cole is in superb form throughout. Elsewhere, he bests Johnny Mathis on his version of the poignant ballad "I Was Telling Her About You," and, as on the rest of the album, is the epitome of taste and bluesy romanticism on "Come Home." ~ Matt Collar
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Vocal Jazz - Released August 3, 2010 | HighNote Records

Throughout his career, Freddy Cole has striven to maintain a style and tone that don't echo that of his older sibling, Nat, too closely, once even recording an album called I'm Not My Brother, I'm Me (although Freddy did his proclamation a disservice by cutting that album with a trio not unlike Nat's early configuration and including a Nat medley). Still, the familial resemblance has been undeniable, and even several decades after his own debut and the death of Nat, Freddy Cole's music sometimes can't help but bring to mind the more famous relative. Nonetheless, one shouldn't read too much into Freddy Cole's decision to record an album of songs associated with Billy Eckstine, rather than a tribute to Nat King Cole. Like Freddy, Eckstine was a Chicago-bred baritone and the two were close friends from the time Freddy was a youngster (Eckstine often visited the Cole house) up until Eckstine's death in 1993. The influence of Eckstine upon Cole has been significant and well documented, and this collection provides a golden opportunity to understand just how much Cole has absorbed from Eckstine without resorting to imitating him. A case in point is Cole's reading of "Jelly Jelly," which Eckstine co-wrote and first sang with Earl Hines in 1940. Eckstine's take is grittier, a vibrato-infused crawling blues that naturally befits the time and place it was recorded. Cole's remake is no less authentic, although not as jagged and more pop-oriented, more apropos of a seasoned veteran of nearly 80 interpreting what is essentially a period piece for a modern audience. Any affectations that might tie the tune to a more ribald origin are eliminated or smoothed over -- the new version would be at home in any sophisticated contemporary nightclub populated by patrons who might be scared off by the streetwise Eckstine-Hines approach. "Cottage for Sale," a hit for Eckstine in the mid-'40s, is here given a casual, shuffling ballad treatment, Cole's voice revealing the slightest cracks as he unveils the story line, sympathetically accompanied by his regular band of John DeMartino (piano), Randy Napoleon (guitar), Elias Bailey (bass), and Curtis Boyd (drums), with Houston Person joining on tenor saxophone on most tracks. For "Ma, She's Makin' Eyes at Me," Cole dismisses all but Bailey for the first minute, focusing the light on his snappy, coolly swinging vocal until the others are allowed to join in. Similarly, the album's closer, "Mister, You've Gone and Got the Blues," leaves it up to guitarist Napoleon to provide the shape to Cole's vocal during its first third, before it all opens up. Overall, Cole succeeds in his mission to remind us of the greatness of Billy Eckstine, but at the same time he reminds us that Freddy Cole, too, is and always has been his own man. ~ Jeff Tamarkin
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Vocal Jazz - Released August 8, 2007 | HighNote Records

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Vocal Jazz - Released May 24, 2005 | HighNote Records

"[With] a hazy 'But for Now' that superbly captures the vaguely menacing romanticism of Bob Dorough's lyric and a gorgeously pensive reading of the R&B masterpiece 'Out in the Cold Again."
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Bebop - Released December 7, 2018 | HighNote Records

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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released January 1, 2001 | Concord Records, Inc.

Freddy Cole's second Telarc release features him in a variety of jazz and Latin settings, with a stellar cast of musicians -- most notably pianist/arranger Arturo O'Farrill. Cole plays very capable piano on five of the 11 tracks and arranges six of them. Gravel-voiced and relentlessly laid-back, the younger brother of Nat "King" Cole is true to form on this romantic collection of songs, most of which aren't too well known, with the exception of "Invitation" and "I Concentrate on You." The nicest surprise comes on Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Sem Voce," which Cole sings in the original Portuguese; Joe Beck plays the changes on alto guitar and solos beautifully on acoustic. Cole's regular band, with guitarist Jerry Byrd, bassist Herman Burney, and drummer Curtis Boyd, splits the program with a larger Latin ensemble that includes the likes of O'Farrill, "Papo" Vazquez on trombone, Lou Marini on sax and flute, and Steve Berrios on drums and Latin percussion. Even though Cole's voice is not "pretty" in a conventional sense, this definitely works as turn-the-lights-down-low music. O'Farrill's choice of Fender Rhodes electric piano on the first and last tracks is an inspired touch. ~ David R. Adler
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Vocal Jazz - Released May 19, 2006 | HighNote Records

Freddy Cole's voice may be a bit worn, but it is still expressive and quite effective on this CD, a tribute to Tony Bennett. Rather than re-create Bennett's greatest hits, Cole sings a few of Bennett's favorite songs in a typically straightforward manner. Houston Person's tenor is a major asset on six of the ten selections (he always seems to work perfectly with singers) and the rhythm section, which includes the excellent pianist John Di Martino, is top-notch. Since Tony Bennett considers Nat King Cole (Freddy's brother) one of his main influences, this set makes particular sense. "Blame It on My Youth," a vocal version of Django Reinhardt's "Nuages," and a touching rendition of "The Gentle Rain" are among the highlights of one of Freddy Cole's finest records of the 21st century. ~ Scott Yanow
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Bebop - Released December 7, 2018 | HighNote Records

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Jazz - Released January 13, 1993 | Savoy

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Vocal Jazz - Released May 21, 2013 | HighNote Records

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Bebop - Released December 7, 2018 | HighNote Records

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