Freddy Cole Quartet at the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts, March 16

17 Mar

Tonight at the classy Brooklyn Performing Arts Center, distinguished, brilliant and humorous Freddy Cole (http://www.freddycole.com/overview.html) performed with his quartet comprised of guitarist Randy Napoleon, drummer Curtis Boyd and bassist Elias Bailey. The concert mixed standards – most of them romantic songs – with bluesy tunes. Cole alternated singing while playing the piano at the same time and standing in front of the band to sing without using the piano.

Singing love songs for the most part, Cole paid tribute to his brother (who would have had his birthday tomorrow). He used Nat King Cole’s repertoire while at the same time reminding the audience (and probably himself), humorously, that he is not his brother, creating the chorus “I’m not my brother, I’m just me.”

The first part of the concert was slow-paced and wonderful. The lighting was appropriate and the venue complemented the band’s style and spirit. Among many other songs, the band performed “Tender is the night,” “A Cottage for Sale” and “Smile.”

The second part of the evening featured a lot of excerpts of famous songs such as “Nature Boy,” “L.O.V.E,” “A Lovely Day” and “Unforgettable” and despite their agile transitions between the tunes, the band seemed to rush through that potpourri of selected titles. Perhaps they wanted to make sure everybody would have their gist of known songs, but Freddy Cole on stage is sufficient: His presence impacts jazz and the blues and his spirit is profound and charming. I would have enjoyed that second part better had the band chosen fewer titles and taken their time to play each in full, as for the first part. After all, Freddy Cole is enabling the tradition of jazz singing to continue, and why wouldn’t that be crucial enough?

Cole also declared that he sings the blues and did indeed sing the blues towards the end of the concert, which was invigorating and a perfect contrast to some of the ballads. Debonair Cole really entertains his audience, and his entire band convincingly espouses his delightful sense of swing.

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