Freddy Cole

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Freddy Cole
Freddy Cole in 2003
Cole in 2003
Background information
Birth name Lionel Frederick Cole
Born (1931-10-15) October 15, 1931 (age 85)
Origin Chicago, Illinois, United States
Genres Jazz
Instruments Vocals, piano
Years active 1952–present

Lionel Frederick "Freddy" Cole (born October 15, 1931) is an American jazz singer and pianist, whose recording career has spanned over sixty years. He is leader of the Freddy Cole Quartet, which regularly tours the United States, Europe, the Far East and South America.

He is the brother of the musicians Nat King Cole and Ike Cole, father of Lionel Cole and uncle of Natalie Cole, Timolin Cole and Casey Cole.


Cole was born to Edward and Paulina Cole, and grew up in Chicago with siblings Eddie, Ike and Nat King Cole. 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 in 1953[1] Cole spent several months on the road with Johnny Coles and Benny Golson as the Earl Bostic band. He went on to work with Grover Washington, Jr. and to record jingles for various companies, including Turner Classic Movies[2]

During the 1970s, Cole recorded several albums for European and English based labels. 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.[3]

Cole was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 2007.[4] 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 Vocal Jazz Album. The album features tenor Houston Person, pianist John DiMartino, guitarist/arranger Randy Napoleon, drummer Curtis Boyd, and bassist Elias Bailey.

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."[5]

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."[6]


  • 2014: Singing The Blues
  • 2013: This and That
  • 2011: Talk to Me
  • 2010: Freddy Cole Sings Mr. B (Grammy-nominated)
  • 2009: The Dreamer in Me: Live at Dizzy's Club
  • 2007: Music Maestro Please
  • 2006: Because of You
  • 2005: This Love of Mine
  • 2004: Waiter, Ask the Man to Play the Blues, re-mastered
  • 2004: I'm Not My Brother, I'm Me, re-release
  • 2003: In the Name of Love
  • 2001: Rio de Janeiro Blue
  • 2000: Merry-Go-Round
  • 1999: Le Grand Freddy: Freddy Cole Sings The Music Of Michel Legrand
  • 1998: Love Makes the Changes
  • 1997: To the Ends of the Earth[7]
  • 1997: It's Crazy, But I'm in Love
  • 1996: Live at Vartan Jazz
  • 1995: This Is the Life (Muse Records)[8]
  • 1995: Always
  • 1995: I Want a Smile for Christmas
  • 1993: A Circle of Love
  • 1992: Live at Birdland West
  • 1990: I'm Not My Brother, I'm Me
  • 1980: Right from the Heart
  • 1978: One More Love Song
  • 1977: The Cole Nobody Knows
  • 1976: The Way Freddy Cole Sings
  • 1964: Waiter, Ask the Man to Play the Blues
  • 1953: Whispering Grass
  • 1952: The Joke's on Me


  1. ^ "Popular Artist Biographies. All Media Guide, 2009.". Retrieved 3 Jan 2010. 
  2. ^ Down Beat profile
  3. ^ Steinway
  4. ^ "Georgia Music Hall of Fame Inductees". Retrieved 20 November 2010. 
  5. ^ Freddy Coles website
  6. ^ Boston Globe
  7. ^ John Swenson The Rolling Stone jazz & blues album guide 1999 - Page 159 "To the Ends of the Earth (Fantasy, 1997) Freddy Cole fb. 1931), the younger brother of Nat King Cole, has an instantly recognizable voice full of charm and emotional heft."
  8. ^ Allmusic

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