Freddy Cole: This Love of Mine

Celebrating his 74th birthday this month, Nat Cole’s kid brother continues his reign as one of the most appealing balladeers in vocal jazz. Yes, as has surely been mentioned in every Freddy Cole review since he first put voice to disc in 1952, there’s the lingering hint of his more celebrated sibling’s polished veneer. Though his signature tune remains the self-penned “I’m Not My Brother, I’m Me,” he doesn’t deny the similarity, often covering Nat’s hits-in this case, the long-ago Astaire-Rogers showstopper “The Continental,” from 1934’s The Gay Divorcee, that “King” Cole made his own in 1960 at the Sands.

But to dismiss Freddy as merely a decent replica is to fail to appreciate the distinctiveness of his gruffer, gutsier sound, as best evidenced on a hazy “But for Now” that superbly captures the vaguely menacing romanticism of Bob Dorough’s lyric and a gorgeously pensive reading of the R&B masterpiece “Out in the Cold Again.”