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October 2006

Freddy Cole
Because of You
HighNote Records

The subtitle on this album says Freddy Cole Sings Tony Bennett—and therein lies more of a challenge than a tribute. Think of it: Cole has been very gradually losing his ability to sustain tones over the past decade, and at this point in his career he takes on one of the most robust pair of lungs in the biz. That’s chutzpah.

Or is it?

Where is it written that a tribute should be a Xerox of the one being honored?

Cole is merely doing tunes linked to Bennett in his own style. Songs like “Because of You” and “If I Ruled the World” don’t have to be bravado exercises. Freddy has always been an intimate performer. He doesn’t have to shout. What we have here, as seen through the Cole prism, is a great album for lovers, or for anyone who digs quality tunes. Adding to the enjoyment: the always reliable tenor saxophonist Houston Person and a remarkably tasteful pianist in John Di Martino, who not only relieves Cole from the chore of self-accompaniment but also arranged the album. Highlights: Cole’s treatment of “Blame It on My Youth,” “The Gentle Rain” and Django Reinhardt’s “Nuages,” to which Bennett added a splendid lyric, emerging as ”All for You.”

Originally published in October 2006
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