Freddy Cole

Lionel Frederick Cole, October 15, 1931 – June 27th 2020), was an American jazz pianist and singer whose recording career spanned nearly 70 years. He was the elder brother of Nat King Cole, Eddie Cole, Ike Cole and Carole Cole. Freddy Cole was the son of Rev. Perlina (Adams), and Edward J. Coles were Freddy Cole’s parents. He was raised in Chicago, Illinois. Each of his brothers, Nat King Cole (1919-1965), Eddie (1910-1970) and Ike (1927-192001), also pursued music careers. At six years old, he began to play piano and continued his musical education at Chicago’s Roosevelt Institute. In 1951, he moved to New York, where he studied at Juilliard School of Music. He then completed a master’s at the New England Conservatory of Music. Cole spent many months touring the country with Johnny Coles, Benny Golson and the Earl Bostic after the modest success of “WhisperingGrass” on OKeh Records. Cole recorded many albums during the 1970s for English-based and European labels. He continued to work with Grover Wash, Jr., and to record jingles at various companies including Turner Classic Movies. He was also the subject of The Cole Nobody Knows (2006) documentary. Cole was included in the Steinway Artists roster in June 2006. The Freddy Cole Quartet, Curtis Boyd on drums, Elias Bailey on bass, and Randy Napoleon guitarist Recording session, The Book of Leah. In 2007, Cole was inducted into Georgia’s Music Hall of Fame. He released a recording in July 2009 featuring his own band (guitarist Randy Napoleon and drummer Curtis Boyd), and bassist Elias Bailey. They were joined by Jerry Weldon, pianist John DiMartino and alto saxophonist Jerry Weldon, who performed live at Dizzy’s jazz club in Lincoln Center. Freddy Cole Sings Mr. B was nominated in the Best Jazz Vocal Album category for the Grammy. The album features Houston Person, John DiMartino, pianist, guitarist/arranger Randy Napoleon and drummer Curtis Boyd. Al Gomes, Cole’s publicist, scored him his first TV appearance since 2009 when he performed live on the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon. His 2018 album, “My Mood is You”, was nominated for a Grammy. It features Napoleon, Bailey and DiMartino, as well as Quentin Baxter, drummer, and tenor Joel Frahn. The arrangements are by Napoleon DiMartino. Cole was influenced by Oscar Peterson and Teddy Wilson, as well as Billy Eckstine. Cole said of Eckstine that he was “a phenomenal entertainer.” It was amazing how much I learned from watching him and being around him. Randy Napoleon, a guitarist who has been recording and playing with Cole since 2007, stated that Freddy “just glides through life.” He has a lot of patience and warmth. Music is inseparable with Freddy. One of his greatest qualities is his elegance and judicious editing. Although he doesn’t play many notes on the piano, the ones that he does make the band feel great are the best. It’s melodic and it swings. That’s all. He didn’t think you needed a lot more fancy stuff. Freddy Cole, 88, died June 27, 2020.

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