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Album Review

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, Rovi


Born: 15 October 1931 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The younger brother of Nat King Cole and uncle of Natalie Cole, singer/pianist Freddy Cole sounds a great deal like his celebrated sibling, yet has a personality of his own. Cole, whose vocals tend to be a bit darker and slightly rougher, began playing piano at five or six. He was interested in playing football professionally, but decided to pursue a career in music after a hand injury ended his career as an athlete. He debuted on vinyl in 1952 when he recorded the single "The Joke's on Me" for the...
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The Dreamer In Me - Live At Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, Freddy Cole
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