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Vocal Jazz - Released May 15, 2018 | HighNote Records

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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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Vocal Jazz - Released May 5, 2016 | HighNote Records

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Vocal Jazz - Released September 23, 2014 | HighNote Records

Journeyman jazz vocalist/pianist Freddy Cole digs deep into a burnished, bluesy vibe on 2014's Singing the Blues. The album follows up his similarly engaging 2013 effort This and That, and also brings to mind the 2010 Grammy-nominated Freddy Cole Sings Mr. B. Backing Cole this time out is a superb ensemble of musicians including pianist John di Martino, drummer Curtis Boyd, bassist Elias Bailey, and guitarist Randy Napoleon. This is urbane yet earthy vocal jazz performed by a true master of the genre. © Matt Collar /TiVo
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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 /TiVo
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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 /TiVo
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Vocal Jazz - Released July 14, 2009 | HighNote Records

In a climate-controlled, ofttimes sterile studio environ, Freddy Cole's recordings strive for perfection, perhaps a bit too much. So it's great to hear him at age 75 in live performance at Dizzy's Club Coca Cola in Lincoln Center, N.Y.C. with an excellent backup quintet, cutting loose a bit. His dusky, slightly raspy, well-weathered voice has an universal, sophisticated appeal that transcends the standards he sings, while his choice of material allows for no modicum of surprise. The extraordinary pianist John Di Martino is here on six of the eleven selections, with Cole on the 88s for the rest. Rising star and guitarist Randy Napoleon left his duties with Michael Bublé to join up with Cole and plays very tastefully, while tenor sax veteran Jerry Weldon is always on the money, whether filling cracks, comping with Cole's singing, or playing exuberant, swinging solos. Always a balladeer and a romantic, Cole strings together five songs in the middle of this set where his understated command of vocal and instrumental lyricism is second to none. The fantasy tune of yesterdays, "I'm Making Believe," Cole Porter's obscure praise song "You're Sensational," the ballad of confusion "Where Can I Go Without You?," the swing of hope on "More Than Likely," and the renewal ballad "You're Bringing Out the Dreamer in Me" could collectively charm the socks off any frog prince or geeky gal. Cole also conjures up some energy, and it is good to hear him slightly ramp up "I Will Wait for You," groove the bluesy, toe-tapping "Send for Me" with Di Martino's inflections via "All Blues," and modify the cheesy pop tune "What Now My Love?" into an actual soul-jazz funk with the audience's handclapping. His most autobiographical tune is about his hometown, as "On the South Side of Chicago" has Cole reminiscing about the good old days with references to simpler, better times, and a verse referring to the veteran tenor saxophonist Von Freeman. Freddy Cole is best heard at a concert or club date, and this consistent set displays his estimable wares favorably in ways that make listeners realize his jazz juices are ebbing and flowing well past what most singers would consider to be their prime. © Michael G. Nastos /TiVo
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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 /TiVo
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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 /TiVo
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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." © TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2000 | Telarc

The colorful liner notes to this sensuous recording by the veteran vocalist and pianist make no bones about Cole's soothing, relaxing approach to standards that range from the obscure (Bill Withers' "Watching You, Watching Me") to the way too often recorded (a pleasant, smoky version of "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes"). Cole's voice is soft like Mel Tormé's, a bit rough like Tony Bennett, but altogether listenable. The real joy comes from the arrangements by Cole and pianist Cedar Walton. One of the liveliest of these is the final track, a swinging, soulful version of "You're Sensational," but there are imaginative touches of a subtle big-band sound on many other tracks that bring the production up a notch. Walton, trumpeter Lew Soloff, and Wes Montgomery-styled guitarist Jerry Byrd are all given ample solo space as well. Similar-styled performers like Tony Bennett have long garnered more glory for their works, but this is as solid as old-style vocal and trio jazz gets. © Jonathan Widran /TiVo
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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 /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 13, 1993 | Savoy

Formerly issued on the Muse label and reissued on its successor, 32 Jazz, song stylist Freddy Cole finds himself in good company with producer Houston Person on tenor sax; Cecil Bridgewater; Steve Turre; and a fine rhythm section of Kenny Washington, Jerry Byrd, and Tom Hubbard. Cole provides his own piano accompaniment. Recorded in 1993, the play list is comprised of familiar standards and less well-known material, including two by Cole. Not all the cuts have Cole singing. The opening track, "Easy to Love," is an instrumental with everybody getting a chance to solo. There are few bars during the bridge where Cole's piano and the guitar of Jerry Byrd get a sound similar to that which Nat King Cole created with his guitar player, Oscar Moore. Much is written trying to find variations between this Cole and brother Nat. But on such tunes as "This Is the Life," the similarities in tone, timbre, and mannerisms, rather than differences, are underscored. On this cut, Bridgewater's trumpet weaves in and out with Cole's vocalizing, both on top of Washington's drums. In contrast, Freddy Cole's voice takes on a deeper hue than his brother's on "Sweet Beginnings," with Bridgewater's trumpet once more the instrumental counterpart. The melodious trombone of Steve Turre is important to making "Don't Change Your Mind About Me" one of the album's more engaging tracks. Although it's virtually impossible to avoid comparisons with his more famous big brother, Freddy Cole's work stands on its merits as his successful career both as recording and performing artist has settled. This is another fine effort and is recommended. © Dave Nathan /TiVo
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Jazz - Released May 21, 2010 | Sonorama

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Vocal Jazz - Released August 8, 2007 | HighNote Records

Jazz singer Freddy Cole has accompanied himself on piano for decades, but here he turns that task over to the quite able Bill Charlap on a program of well-worn standards and a handful of lesser-known tunes. Cole's sweet, soulful, robust voice has held him in good stead over the years, and continues to retain that refined, aged yet timeless texture. Charlap plays pretty piano in primarily balladic mode, while the famed Washington rhythm team (bassist Peter and drummer Kenny) is as reliable as any. Quite a few of the compositions are plucked from the '30s, like "If I Love Again," "Once in a While," and "You Leave Me Breathless." There are two midtempo numbers, including a scatted intro on "There Are Such Things," and two voice/piano duets, the downhearted blues "Why Did I Choose You?," and the equally blues-trodden medley "Don't Take Your Love from Me/I Never Had a Chance." Another obscure song, "You Could Hear a Pin Drop," evokes a mood apropos of its title, written by Bobby Cole (no relation). The finale -- the old Johnny Mercer novelty "How Do You Say auf Wiedersehn?" -- could be Heidi Klum's Project Runway closing theme song. There are no real sparks flying here, just palpable empathy among the supportive backup participants, evidence of a low, slow, steady blue flame that burns forever in everybody's heart, kept quite alive and well by troubadour Cole.This CD was nominated for a Grammy award in 2007 for Best Jazz Vocal Album. © Michael G. Nastos /TiVo
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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released January 1, 2001 | Telarc

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 /TiVo
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Jazz - Released October 2, 2015 | Audiophile

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Bebop - Released December 7, 2018 | HighNote Records

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Bebop - Released December 7, 2018 | HighNote Records

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