Freddy Cole

Freddy Cole
Freddy Cole in 2003
Cole in 2003
Background information
Birth nameLionel Frederick Cole
Born(1931-10-15)October 15, 1931
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
DiedJune 27, 2020(2020-06-27) (aged 88)
Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
Occupation(s)Musician, singer
  • Vocals
  • piano
Years active1952–2020

Lionel Frederick Cole (October 15, 1931 – June 27, 2020) was an American jazz singer and pianist whose recording career spanned almost 70 years. He was the brother of musicians Nat King Cole, Eddie Cole, and Ike Cole, father of Lionel Cole, and uncle of Natalie Cole and Carole Cole.

Early life[edit]

Freddy Cole was born to Rev. Edward J. Coles and Perlina (Adams) Coles, and grew up in Chicago, Illinois. His brothers Nat "King" Cole (1919–1965), Eddie (1910–1970), and Ike (1927–2001) also each pursued careers in music.[1][2] He began playing piano at the age of six, and continued his musical education at the Roosevelt Institute in Chicago. He moved to New York in 1951, where he studied at the Juilliard School of Music before completing a master's degree at the New England Conservatory of Music.


Following the moderate success of "Whispering Grass" on OKeh Records in 1953[3] Cole spent several months on the road with Johnny Coles and Benny Golson as the Earl Bostic band. During the 1970s, Cole recorded several albums for European and English-based labels. He went on to work with Grover Washington, Jr. and to record jingles for various companies, including Turner Classic Movies[4] He was the subject of the 2006 documentary, The Cole Nobody Knows. In June of that year, Cole was added to the Steinway Artist roster.[5]

The Freddy Cole Quartet with Curtis Boyd drums, Elias Bailey bass, and Randy Napoleon guitar

Cole was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 2007.[6] In July 2009, he released a recording featuring his own quartet (guitarist Randy Napoleon, drummer Curtis Boyd, and bassist Elias Bailey), along with alto saxophonist Jerry Weldon and pianist John DiMartino, playing live at Dizzy's jazz club in Lincoln Center. His 2010 album, Freddy Cole Sings Mr. B, was nominated for the Grammy in the category Best Jazz Vocal Album. The album features tenor Houston Person, pianist John DiMartino, guitarist/arranger Randy Napoleon, drummer Curtis Boyd, and bassist Elias Bailey. In 2010, his publicist Al Gomes scored Cole his first national TV appearance in years, performing live on the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon.[7]

His 2018 album, My Mood is You was also nominated for a Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album; the album features Napoleon, Bailey, DiMartino as well as drummer Quentin Baxter and tenor Joel Frahn. Arrangements are by Napoleon and DiMartino.

Cole's influences included John Lewis, Oscar Peterson, Teddy Wilson and Billy Eckstine. When speaking of Eckstine, Cole recalled: "He was a fantastic entertainer. I learned so much from just watching and being around him."[8]

Guitarist Randy Napoleon, who has been playing and recording with Cole since 2007, said: "Freddy just glides through life. He's got a lot of patience, warmth, a great sense of humor. The music is really inseparable from the person...One of the things that makes Freddy really great is his elegance and careful, judicious editing. He doesn't play a lot of notes on piano, but the ones he plays really do make the band feel great. They're melodic, it swings, and that's it. He doesn't feel you need a lot of extra, fancy stuff."[9]


Freddy Cole died on June 27, 2020, aged 88.[10][11] He was remembered by notable jazz artists in an article in ArtsATL.[12]


  • Waiter, Ask the Man to Play the Blues (Dot, 1964)
  • On Second Thought (De-Lite, 1969)
  • Freddy Cole's Christmas Dreams (Arrikka, 1975)
  • As Long As I'm Singing (First Shot, 1976)
  • The Cole Nobody Knows (First Shot, 1976)
  • Just Plain Freddy - Live (First Shot, 1976)
  • Sing (Demand, 1977)
  • One More Love Song (Decca (UK), 1978)
  • I Loved You (Som Livre, 1978)
  • Latino (Som Livre, 1979)
  • Right from the Heart (Decca (UK), 1980)
  • Like a Quiet Storm (Dinky, 1983)
  • Appearing Nightly (Dinky, 1987)
  • I'm Not My Brother I'm Me (Sunnyside, 1991)
  • Just the Way I Am – Salute to Nat King Cole (Alfa, 1992)
  • Live at Birdland West (Laserlight, 1992)
  • This Is the Life (Muse, 1993)
  • Live at Vartan Jazz (Vartan Jazz, 1994)
  • Always (Fantasy, 1994)
  • I Want a Smile for Christmas (Fantasy, 1994)
  • A Circle of Love (Fantasy, 1996)
  • It's Crazy but I'm in Love (After 9, 1996)
  • The Ends of the Earth (Fantasy, 1997)[13]
  • Love Makes the Changes (Fantasy, 1998)
  • Le Grand Freddy (Fantasy, 1999)
  • Merry-Go-Round (Telarc, 2000)
  • Rio De Janeiro Blue (Telarc, 2001)
  • In the Name of Love (Telarc, 2003)
  • This Love of Mine (HighNote, 2005)
  • Because of You (HighNote, 2006)
  • Music Maestro Please with Bill Charlap (HighNote, 2007)
  • When You're Smiling with Marlena Shaw (Ratspack, 2007)
  • The Dreamer in Me: Live at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola (HighNote, 2009)
  • Freddy Cole Sings Mr. B (HighNote, 2010)
  • Talk to Me (HighNote, 2011)
  • This and That (HighNote, 2013)
  • Singing the Blues (HighNote, 2014)
  • He Was The King (HighNote, 2016)
  • My Mood Is You (HighNote, 2018)


  1. ^ "NPR's Jazz Profiles: Freddy Cole". Retrieved 2021-06-16.
  2. ^ Crawford, Trish (June 12, 2015). "How I got the jazz gene: seven artists reveal their roots". The Star. Retrieved May 26, 2017.
  3. ^ "Popular Artist Biographies. All Media Guide, 2009". Retrieved January 3, 2010.
  4. ^ "Down Beat profile". Archived from the original on November 24, 2006. Retrieved January 23, 2018.
  5. ^ "Casa". January 22, 2016. Retrieved January 23, 2018.
  6. ^ "Georgia Music Hall of Fame Inductees". Retrieved November 20, 2010.
  7. ^ "Al Gomes Archive : Freddy Cole Live on MDA Telethon". YouTube. January 31, 2011. Archived from the original on 2021-12-14. Retrieved January 31, 2011.
  8. ^ "Freddy Coles website". Archived from the original on March 24, 2008. Retrieved January 23, 2018.
  9. ^ Goodwin, Jeremy D. (November 16, 2013). "Freddy Cole learns to live his legacy". The Boston Globe. Retrieved January 23, 2018.
  10. ^ Chinen, Nate (June 28, 2020). "Freddy Cole, Singer Who Eluded the Shadow of His Brother Nat 'King' Cole, Has Died at 88". WBGO. Retrieved June 28, 2020.
  11. ^ Cosentino, Lawrence (June 29, 2020). "Guitarist Randy Napoleon Remembers the Great Freddy Cole". City Pulse. Retrieved June 30, 2020.
  12. ^ Goins, Wayne E. (July 16, 2020). "Appreciation: The influence of jazz icon Freddy Cole was as wide as his fame". Arts ATL. Retrieved July 17, 2020.
  13. ^ John Swenson, The Rolling Stone Jazz & Blues Album Guide 1999, p. 159

External links[edit]