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Freddy Cole: 1931 - 2020

I learned this morning that pianist and vocalist Freddy Cole had died at the age of 88. For more than half of his life, Cole was based in Atlanta. He moved here with his family in 1971 after spending his formative years in Chicago and New York City. The younger brother of Nat King Cole, Freddy Cole distinguished himself as a supremely gifted singer and pianist. Comparisons with his more-famous brother were inevitable, but Freddy Cole had a ready refrain: "I'm Not My Brother, I'm Me" which he turned into an album and song title.

I had the pleasure of briefly meeting Freddy Cole at the Apres Diem Jazz Jam on a couple of occasions when he was there to hear the music. I don't recall him playing at the jam session when I was there, but his presence added a palpable energy to the proceedings as people tried to sound their best in front of the legendary musician.

Cole performed at the 2017 Atlanta Jazz Festival with a great band that included tenorist Houston Person. Below is a performance clip that captures Cole's distinct brand of relaxed jazz that none-the-less possessed startling depth of emotion and immediacy.


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