Formerly issued on the Muse label and reissued on its successor, 32 Jazz, song stylist Freddy Cole finds himself in good company with producer Houston Person on tenor sax; Cecil Bridgewater; Steve Turre; and a fine rhythm section of Kenny Washington, Jerry Byrd, and Tom Hubbard. Cole provides his own piano accompaniment.
Recorded in 1993, the play list is comprised of familiar standards and less well-known material, including two by Cole. Not all the cuts have Cole singing. The opening track, “Easy to Love,” is an instrumental with everybody getting a chance to solo. There are few bars during the bridge where Cole’s piano and the guitar of Jerry Byrd get a sound similar to that which Nat King Cole created with his guitar player, Oscar Moore.
Much is written trying to find variations between this Cole and brother Nat. But on such tunes as “This Is the Life,” the similarities in tone, timbre, and mannerisms, rather than differences, are underscored. On this cut, Bridgewater’s trumpet weaves in and out with Cole’s vocalizing, both on top of Washington’s drums.
In contrast, Freddy Cole’s voice takes on a deeper hue than his brother’s on “Sweet Beginnings,” with Bridgewater’s trumpet once more the instrumental counterpart. The melodious trombone of Steve Turre is important to making “Don’t Change Your Mind About Me” one of the album’s more engaging tracks. Although it’s virtually impossible to avoid comparisons with his more famous big brother, Freddy Cole’s work stands on its merits as his successful career both as recording and performing artist has settled. This is another fine effort and is recommended.