Freddy Cole - In the Name of Love

 

 

Freddy Cole, the youngest brother of the late Nat ďKingĒ Cole, grew up surrounded by music and with three talented older brothers, itís hardly surprising.  His interest had started in earnest at the age of five or six when he started playing piano.  He was influenced by the music of Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Lionel Hampton, all of whom visited his native Chicago. 

An early hand injury put paid to what could have been a promising football career and Freddy put all his energies into music, studying at the Roosevelt Institute, Juillard School of Music and New England Conservatory of Music (where he gained a masterís degree). 

In the bistros of New York, he developed a huge repertoire of songs and branched out into TV and radio commercial jingle work.  His long recording career stretches from his first release on a small Chicago label in 1952, through the 70ís when he learned to sing in other languages, to this polished third release for the Telarc label. 

The slow, relaxed tone for this album is set by Freddyís cover of Boz Scaggsí Harbor Lights.  You can imagine it appearing on the soundtrack of the next big romantic comedy.  The quality of instrumentation is also obvious right from the start: Romero Lubamboís dreamy acoustic guitar and Barry Danelianís even dreamier trumpet make lovely contributions. 

Smokey Robinson fans will recognise Just to See Her, though the vocal treatment is more gravelly and laid back.  You can almost hear the Chicagoan smiling on this song.  All of the beauty of the original version of Have I Told You Lately That I Love You is captured here.  The piano on this song is gorgeous and the simple arrangement leaves Coleís lovely vocal to shine. Got a lump in your throat?  I haveÖ 

The vocal version of Grover Washington Jrís In the Name of Love is classy and though David Mannís soprano sax isnít centre-stage, it sounds sweet when it appears.  Similarly, Cassandra Reedís vocal is delicious.  The more exotic Remember Me has some lovely touches.  The guitar and keyboard double up while the sexy latin percussion pitter-patters in the background.  The interplay between Coleís smoky voice and Jane Monheitís delicate voice is carried off perfectly. 

Another Ivan Lins/Vitor Martins composition follows.  Iím Not Alone has a lovely sway.  Lubamboís guitar is warm but crystal clear.  It takes a producer of the calibre of Jason Miles to draw such relaxed performances from this awesome group of musicians.  Milesí own Hammond B3 opens the sexy Save a Little Time For Me, written by Coleís son Lionel.  I keep thinking of Roy Ayersí ballad style when I hear this.  Cassandra Reed really does the question-and-answer beautifully.  If I told you Jay Beckensteinís soprano sax was the icing on the cake, youíd know where Iím coming from, right? 

The moody When It Rains is a Jason Miles composition.  The chord sequence in the chorus is haunting and Mark Eganís unusually muted bass adds to the dream-like quality of the sound.  Lubamboís guitar is magical in the short solos Ė he was a perfect choice for this collection.  Lady Love is very lightweight compared to some of the gems on this album.  It wonít set hearts fluttering but itís pretty.  The last time I heard I Canít Make You Love Me was an instrumental on a Candy Dulfer album.  This slow and moving version is a totally different take on this modern classic.  David Mannís sax is suitably lyrical Ė this is one sax man who deserves much more exposure than he gets. 

Notice how Iíve avoided comparing Freddyís voice to that of his legendary brother?  Thatís because, with the exception of I Loved You, the similarity isnít that obvious.  On this wistful ballad, I can hear elements of Natís vocal and Ė who knows Ė if Natís life and career had been longer, the similarity may been even more pronounced. 

Freddy Cole does not aim to please any particular age group.  And heís right to work that way, because this would please older easy-listening fans, middle-aged jazz fans (yeah, ok, guys like me) and younger folks who can relate to the material well.  His easy vocal style, great choice of songs, musicians like bassist Will Lee and percussionist Marc Quinones (in addition to the rising stars already mentioned) and the light touch of producer Jason Miles make this an old-fashioned, modern collection you really need to have. 

 


 Telarc Records Ė cat no. CD-83545 Ė Producer Jason Miles