Freddy Cole Day

October 15, 1931 – June 27, 2020


A tribute to the jazz singer-pianist

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Singer-pianist Freddy Cole passed away on June 27, 2020 at the age of 88.

Lionel Frederick Coles was born October 15, 1931 in Chicago, Illinois.

He was not only the younger brother of Nat King Cole but his siblings included bassist Eddie Cole and pianist-singer Ike Cole, and he was the uncle of Natalie Cole.

Freddy Cole began playing piano at six and studied at the Roosevelt Institute in Chicago and Juilliard, earning a master’s degree at the New England Conservatory of Music.

He spent much of the first half of his musical career in Nat King Cole’s shadow although he had a regional hit in 1953 with “Whispering Grass.”

Cole worked with Earl Bostic, was a studio musician, and had many low-profile gigs, only recording one album (1964’s Ask The Man To Play The Blues) prior to 1975 when he was already 44.

However starting in 1977, Freddy Cole gradually began to be discovered as a fine 1950s jazz pianist (sometimes sounding a bit like Red Garland) and a strong singer.

While his voice occasionally sounded a little like his older brother, Cole lived much longer and his own personality came through.

Freddy Cole recorded five albums for various small labels during 1975-83 and then in 1990 (when he was 58) began to be documented much more frequently, making numerous recordings (sometimes as a singer-pianist and other times just as a vocalist) for Sunnyside, Muse, Fantasy, Telarc and High Note.

He kept up a busy schedule up until shortly before his death.

Freddy Cole is featured on his original “I’m Not My Brother, I’m Me” from 2005, displaying his independence from the shadow of Nat King Cole.

-Scott Yanow


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