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Steve Cole

Steve Cole

Tenor saxophonist Steve Cole’s smooth-jazz debut, Stay Awhile (Bluemoon/Atlantic), produced four hit singles: “It’s Gonna Be Alright,” “When I Think of You,” “Say It Again” and “Where the Night Begins.” Though confident, Cole admits he was surprised by the success of his debut. “I had no idea that it would connect with anybody; I was just thrilled to make a record.”

The pressure was on for Cole to duplicate his success with his second CD, Between Us (Atlantic). It appears he will make his label happy: The CD debuted at No. 8 on Billboard’s contemporary jazz charts. As on Stay Awhile, influential contemporary jazz producer Brian Culbertson produces; he’s a longtime friend and co-composer who helped Cole jump-start his career. Culbertson also wrote or co-wrote seven of the CD’s 10 songs and he plays keyboards on all of them. But Cole says he’s moving away from Culbertson’s influence as his own sound takes shape. “Brian’s been a big influence and a big reason I’m doing what I’m doing. But at some time you have to establish yourself as an artist in your own right.”

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