Sunday, January 27, 2008

Jazz Royalty Makes Clayton Debut

Jazz royalty Freddy Cole makes his Clayton debut on Saturday, February 9 at 8 p.m. at The Clayton Center. A GRAMMY-nominee and recipient of the 2005 Living Legend Jazz Award, Freddy Cole, younger brother of Nat “King” Cole, is an accomplished pianist and an extraordinary vocalist hailed by The New York Times as “the most maturely expressive male jazz singer of his generation, if not the best alive.”

Born Lionel Frederick Cole October 15, 1931, Freddy is the youngest of five children. His three elder brothers, Eddie, Ike and Nat (twelve years Freddy's senior) were all musicians.

Surrounded by music in his youth, visitors to his family’s home in Chicago included Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Lionel Hampton. A natural musician, Freddy was also a gifted athlete with professional aspirations. After a high school sports injury put an end to his budding football career, he decided to pursue music, issuing his first recording, "The Joke's On Me," in 1952.

Freddy studied at the Juilliard School of Music and later received a Master's degree at the New England Conservatory of Music. During his formative years in New York, Freddy studied the way horn players formed phrases in their solos and cultivated a sparse, swinging vocal style that would become his signature.

Freddy has toured extensively for over 40 year, developing a sophistication of his own with vocals among the most respected in jazz. Still, the comparisons to big brother Nat are inevitable. There are certain unmistakable similarities. He plays piano and sings; he performs live using the same band format as his brother (a piano trio featuring guitar and bass). And then there’s the instantly recognizable Cole voice. But Freddy has developed his own distinctive sound. His vocals, suave, elegant and formidable are smokier and jazzier than his late brother. His phrasing is far closer to that of Frank Sinatra or Billie Holiday and his timing swings a little more.

The February 9 concert is presented in connection with the Short Circuit Traveling Film Festival which will be held at The Clayton Center on Thursday, February 7. Among other entries, the film festival will feature “The Cole Nobody Knows” a documentary about Freddy, who at age 75 is at last being recognized for his own musical talent. Director Clay Walker will be present at the screening in Clayton to introduce his film and answer questions. Tickets to the film festival are $2.50; however admission is free to patrons who purchase tickets to the Freddy Cole concert.

Freddy Cole’s performance is presented as part of The Clayton Center’s 2007-08 season. Next in the Center’s lineup is Blues Bash III featuring Albert White and Beverly “Guitar” Watkins on February 29.

Tickets for Freddy Cole in concert are $22 plus convenience fees. Individual tickets may be purchased online at, by phone at 919-553-1737 or at The Clayton Center Box Office at 111 E. Second St. in downtown Clayton from 10 a.m. until noon and from 1 until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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