Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

This is the 1st of your 3 free articles

Become a member for unlimited website access and more.

FREE TRIAL Available!

Learn More

Already a member? Sign in to continue reading

Freddy Cole : Talk To Me

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

Thirty-five years into a remarkably prodigious, late-breaking second career, Freddy Cole is rivaled only by fellow octogenarian Tony Bennett as the apogee of class. The days of Cole having to distinguish himself from sainted elder sibling Nat are well behind him. What remains is distinctly, uniquely Freddy: sandy-voiced and narrow-ranged, but unequalled (even by Bennett) in the art of instinctive, subdued elegance. No grand gestures, no flashy flourishes, and never a false move or misaligned sentiment, sharing Billie Holiday’s skill for cunningly underplayed mastery.

Like Holiday, Cole is exceptionally good at mining deep for material, continually unearthing less familiar, but no less precious, gems. Bill Withers, a longtime Cole favorite, is represented thrice, with the mellow “You Just Can’t Smile It Away,” sunnily philosophic “Lovely Day” and gently touching “Can We Pretend?” All are stylishly trimmed by special guests Harry Allen and Terell Stafford, alongside Cole’s estimable bandmates: guitarist Randy Napoleon, bassist Elias Bailey and drummer Curtis Boyd, plus pianist John Di Martino. Cole also digs into the songbooks of two heroes, echoing the soft caress of Joe Williams on “I Was Telling Her About You” and recalling Arthur Prysock on a playfully relaxed “Talk to Me” and bluesy “Come Home.”

He closes with a familial nod, but not to Nat. Freddy’s son Lionel penned the slight but charming “After All These Years,” and its exploration of sustained romance speaks equally to Cole’s magnificent durability.

Originally Published