Talk about your sibling rivalries: Being the younger brother (and a piano player and singer, to boot) of pop icon Nat King Cole has gotta be a pain in the ass sometimes. But despite his heavy family tree, Freddy Cole has an easy-going and natural sense of swing that is all his own-and never, ever does he cop any of his late brother’s mannerisms. Freddy’s voice, unlike Nat’s unflappable smoothness, has a smoke-and-Seagram’s edge that gives the 11 tracks on Merry Go Round rich, emotional resonance. Backed by a stalwart crew of New York sessionmen-including pianist-arranger Cedar Walton and drummer Curtis Boyd-Cole pays homage to such jazz-pop elders as Cole Porter, Peggy Lee and Jerome Kern. On Johnny Mercer’s “I Remember You,” Merry Go Round’s gorgeous stand-out track, Cole delivers a tender, intricate vocal then settles behind the ivories and takes listeners through the bittersweet intricacies of lost love. With seemingly very little effort, Cole reworks each facet of the classic cut to its full-blown potential. Hell, some might even call his performance unforgettable.
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