Freddy Cole

| June 16, 2017

Freddy Cole

Birdland, NYC, June 14, 2017

Reviewed by Ron Forman for Cabaret Scenes

Freddy Cole

At age 85, Freddy Cole walked slowly on stage towards his piano but, once seated, he remains what he has been for decades: one of the very best jazz vocalists/pianists. His sound is soft and mellow, his phrasing is expressive, and his exquisite diction makes every word of  lyrics meaningful. He is backed by four top-flight jazz musicians—Randy Napoleon (guitar), Elias Bailey (bass), Quentin Baxter (drums), and special guest Joel Frahm (tenor saxophone)—who combine with Cole for a delightful blend of jazz and love songs. Frahm stands in front of the other sidemen and has a solo turn on saxophone for almost all of the numbers.

The set list is a combination of well-known and somewhat obscure love songs that began with “I Remember You,” which had Cole ending almost in a whisper by repeating “I remember you” three times. His voice is somewhat reminiscent of Nat Cole, and he followed with a song recorded by his older brother, “It’s Crazy, but I’m in Love.” His performance of “There, I’ve Said it Again” reminded me that each song Cole performs is his own special creation. His expressive face made “Sometimes I’m Happy” fun to watch, as well as to listen to. A Nat Cole hit, “To the Ends of the Earth,” gets a super fast treatment with solos by the band, including a sensational solo by Frahm that included a few bars of “Fascinating Rhythm.” Frahm actually made his saxophone laugh during his solo on “Getting Some Fun Out of Life.” Cole rose from the piano and sat on a stool to sing a very moving “You and Me Against the World.” The closing number, “When I Look at You” (Bill Withers), had the band jamming to a big finish. Cole returned for his encore saying amusingly, “I don’t know any more,” before performing a soft and sweet “It’s Easy to Remember.”

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Category: Cabaret Reviews, New York City, New York City Cabaret Reviews, Regional

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