The singer Freddy cole, one of Chicago’s most beloved and iconic jazz figures, and younger brother of Nat King Cole, died last Saturday at age 88 of cardiovascular disease.
The Cole they grew up on the South Side of the city, in the Bronzeville neighborhood, at a time when live music clubs abounded. “In the same block you had two or three taverns where music was played, especially on 63rd Street. There were trios, quartets, quintets, all kinds of formations,” the artist described during an interview, in which he explained the origin of a of his most famous songs, “On the South Side of Chicago”.
All the Cole brothers (Freddy, Nat King, Ike and Eddie) became interested in music thanks to their mother, who was a pianist. For a time Freddy turned away from this path and He wanted to become a professional athlete, but an injury prevented him and he decided to focus on learning to sing and play the piano.. She entered the Juilliard School and the New England Conservatory of Music, and graduated in 1956.
His recordings had little impact during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, but from the nineties onwards he published increasingly solid works, which gave him the recognition he deserved. He was nominated for a Grammy for the albums “My Mood Is You” (2018), “Freddy Cole Sings Mr. B” (2010), “Music Maestro Please” (2007) and “Merry Go Round” (2000). Despite the comparisons, Freddy managed to chart his own path: in his artistic growth he drank from the sources of John Lewis and Oscar Peterson at the piano, and his vocal style pairs him with jazz greats like Billy Eckstine.
But he had to live with the slab of his brother’s enormous success. “When I go on stage there are still people who think I’m going to sing ‘Mona Lisa’ and ‘Nature Boy,’ but I am not Nat. I am differente », he said in an interview in the nineties. He even recorded a song called “I’m Not My Brother, I’m Me”, which said: “Hey, if Nat sounds like me, well, what can I say? » (“Hey, if Nat sounds like me, what can I say?)”.
However, Freddy never held a grudge for Nat King’s success. At the last edition of the Chicago Jazz Festival, held last summer, Freddy barely went on stage alongside his son Lionel (nephew of Nat King and cousin of Natalie Cole) to pay tribute to his older brother, singing several of his most legendary songs.
In 2011 he had a participation in the animation film by Fernando Trueba that was nominated for an Oscar, “Chico y Rita”, where he voiced the character of his brother Nat King. His last visit to our country was in August 2014, when he was 83 years old. He went to Barcelona accompanied by Randy Napoleon on guitar, Elias Bailey on bass and Curtis Boyd on drums, to perform at the Jamboree hall in Barcelona, within the Mas i Mas Festival.