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5 questions: Freddy Cole

Steve Duffy | 8/11/2017, 6 a.m.
Freddy Cole’s vocals — suave, elegant, formidable, sometimes spoken and articulate — make him the most respected lyrical storyteller in ...
Freddy Cole

While there are certain unmistakable similarities in timbre to his brother Nat, Freddy Cole’s voice is raspier, smokier, even jazzier. His phrasing is far closer to that of Frank Sinatra or Billie Holiday than to his brother. His vocals – suave, elegant, formidable, sometimes spoken and articulate – make him the most respected lyrical storyteller 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.

Did you feel it was expected of you to become a musician?

Freddy Cole: No, I never felt like I had to. I always felt it was a blessing that I had the opportunity to learn to play the piano and become a musician. There is nothing else I would want to do.

Being part of a musical family, you were exposed to some of the most iconic musicians in jazz. Who inspired your career most?

FC: There have been so many. I really have been lucky enough to be in the company of such greats as Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughan and Oscar Peterson. It is really hard to name just one. I like to think that I have gained something from everyone that I have met in my lifetime.

What makes a good jazz song?

FC: I believe that jazz can mean something different to different people. You can write or play a song, and you may feel something different than your neighbor. That is the real beauty in music.

Can you describe your playing style and how it has evolved?

FC: I have always made sure that I listen to other musicians and take bits and pieces of the things that I have liked, while still finding myself.

What has been the most memorable experience in your musical career?

FC: Oh, boy! I still remember the first time I went to Brazil and my album “I Loved You” was recently released. I was surprised that so many people started recognizing me and were so enthusiastic about my music.