Sat / Mar 16, 2019

Freddy Cole

“…Cole remains the master of the jazz ballad.” -

"His music will never go out of style." – Charleston City Paper

In Tribute to Nat “King” Cole

Location: The Broad Stage - Main Stage
The legendary, four-time GRAMMY®-nominated pianist/singer Freddy Cole pays a can’t-miss tribute to Nat King Cole on the eve of his brother’s 100th birthday. Don’t miss the musician The New York Times calls “the most maturely expressive male jazz singer of his generation, if not the best alive.”


Lionel Frederick Cole was born on October 15, 1931, the youngest of five children in Chicago. His three elder brothers, Eddie, Ike and Nat “King” Cole (twelve years Freddy's senior) were all musicians. In the Chicago home of his youth, visitors included Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Lionel Hampton. He also credits Billy Eckstine as a major influence. Freddy recalls, "I learned so much from just watching and being around him."

After a possible career with the NFL was shelved due to a hand injury, he began playing and singing in Chicago clubs as a teenager. Freddy moved to New York in 1951, where he studied at the Juilliard School of Music and found himself profoundly influenced by John Lewis, Oscar Peterson and Teddy Wilson. He got a Master's degree at the New England Conservatory of Music and then spent several months on the road as a member of an Earl Bostic band that also included Johnny Coles and Benny Golson.

He currently leads a trio made up of himself, guitarist Randy Napoleon, drummer Curtis Boyd and bassist Elias Bailey based in Atlanta. Freddy has been a recording artist since 1952, when his first single, "The Joke's on Me". Cole doesn't apologize for sounding like his brother, Nat "King" Cole. There are certain unmistakable similarities. In truth, his phrasing is far closer to that of Frank Sinatra or Billie Holiday than that of his brother and his timing swings a little more. His vocals -suave, elegant, formidable, and articulate -are among the most respected in jazz.

The Chicago Tribune Praises Freddy Cole’s Ability To Still Get A Standing Ovation For His Jazz Renditions

At 85, The Chicago Tribune says Freddy Cole still has what it takes to keep the title as one of the best jazz singers of his generation. Read the full article praising Freddy Cole’s jazz singing here.

Jazz & Blues is made possible by a generous gift from Richard and Lisa Kendall. 

Freddy Cole at The Broad Stage made possible in part by a generous gift from Linda & Michael Keston.