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November 2004

Freddy Cole
I'm Not My Brother, I'm Me
HighNote Records

Imagine not only looking and sounding like your more talented, more versatile sibling, but knowing that you can never, ever hope to equal his exalted legacy. No wonder Freddy Cole, having lived in Nat's long shadow for his entire professional life, called his 1990 album, recently reissued on HighNote, I'm Not My Brother, I'm Me. Yes, there are subtle differences. Nat's voice was satin-finished; his kid brother's adds a bit of Spackle to the mix, making it often more intriguing. Freddy has since made all sorts of admirable discs that delve into everything from show tunes to '70s pop hits. But here, suggesting that the album's title doth protest too much, he sticks primarily to the Nat songbook, covering the likes of "To Whom It May Concern" and "Funny (Not Much)," inserting a 10-minute medley of Nat's biggest hits and even paying homage with the schmaltzy "He Was the King." When Freddy does veer away, as with an engagingly, assuredly serene treatment of Stevie Wonder's "Overjoyed" and the self-penned "Like a Quiet Storm," the results are genuinely unique.

Originally published in November 2004
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