Freddy Cole – 1ST SET
About FREDDY COLE
“Freddy has an impeccable sense of swing… he is, overall, the most maturely expressive male jazz singer of his generation, if not the best alive.” The New York Times
“Gorgeous autumnal baritone, expressive phrasing and pitch-perfect feel for jazz standards, pop tunes and love ballads.” People Magazine
Biography – Though Freddy Cole was born in Chicago, currently he is a 35-year native son and international celebrity of Atlanta.
Lionel Frederick Cole was born in Chicago on October 15, 1931, the youngest of Edward and Paulina Nancy Cole’s five children. His three elder brothers, Eddie, Ike and Nat (twelve years Freddy’s senior) were all musicians.
“I started playing piano at five or six,” Freddy remembers. “Music was all around me.” In the Chicago home of his youth, regular visitors included Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Billy Eckstein and Lionel Hampton. He also credits Billy Eckstine as a major influence. “He was a fantastic entertainer,” Freddy recalls. “I learned so much from just watching and being around him.” After a possible career with the NFL was shelved due to a hand injury, he began playing and singing in Chicago clubs as a teenager. Although he was ready to hit the road at 18, his mother intervened and he continued his musical education at the Roosevelt Institute in Chicago.
Freddy 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 The Earl Bostic Band, which also included Johnny Coles and Benny Golson.
It was back in New York that Freddy successfully laid the groundwork for a career that continues to flourish today. He developed a vast repertoire of songs in Manhattan bistros and concurrently began to supplement his live performances with television and radio commercial jingle work.
A resident of Atlanta since 1972, he currently leads a quartet featuring guitarist Randy Napoleon, drummer Quentin Baxter and bassist Elias Bailey that regularly tours the US, Europe, the Far East, South Africa, South America and Australia. Freddy has been a recording artist since 1952, when his first single, “The Joke’s on Me,” was released on an obscure Chicago-based label.
Freddy recorded several albums for European and English companies during the 1970’s that helped him develop a loyal overseas following. Cole believes that becoming an international favorite “made me widen my scope a little bit.” He developed a stand-up act, a better rapport with audiences, and learned to sing in other languages. “It made me much more of a performer.”
Cole doesn’t apologize for sounding like his brother, Nat “King” Cole. There are certain unmistakable similarities in the vocal timbres of all four Cole brothers. He plays piano, sings and performs live with guitar and upright bass, just like Nat. Yet his 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 Nat, and his timing and phrasing swings a little more. His vocals – suave, elegant, formidable, and articulate – are among the most respected in jazz. Cole’s 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, and is now often referred to as the greatest “storyteller” in jazz.
Freddy Cole Freddy Cole Freddy Cole Freddy Cole Freddy Cole Freddy Cole Freddy Cole received an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, The New England Conservatory of Music; June 2012 – WCLK Radio in Atlanta honored Freddy on October 28, 2011 with an 80th birthday celebration; “Freddy Cole SINGS MR. B” was nominated for a 2011 Grammy®; December 1, 2010 he received the “2008 Outstanding Male Jazz Vocalist” Award at the Playbill 2009 Nightlife Awards.
He was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame Sept. 8, 2007; received the “2005 Outstanding Male Jazz Vocalist” Award at the Playbill 2006 Nightlife Award; inducted into the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame “2005 Living Legend Award” June 15, 2005.