189

Freddy Cole: Merry Go Round

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Freddy Cole: Merry Go Round There's the eternal question of what makes a jazz singer. (Well, it's not really eternal, but in jazz years, it might as well be.) Is a jazz singer one who adopts instrumental phrasing, even though many jazz musicians swear that they are trying to simulate the human voice in turn? Is a jazz singer one who abandons or inter-mixes lyrics? Is a jazz singer one who surrounds oneself with jazz musicians?

While certain vocalists like Nat Cole are accepted as a jazz singer as readily as a knee-jerk is expected in a doctor's office once the hammer hits the knee, others like Freddy Cole haven't yet been lionized, in spite of decades in the trenches. Well, in spite of decades in the clubs. Inevitably, Freddy Cole is compared to his brother, and I know that if I were Freddy, I'd be pretty dog-gone tired of that repetitive and mindless type of review. However, while the status of "jazz singer" is up for grabs, Cole does surround himself with supreme jazz musicians. In fact, on his first Telarc CD, Merry Go Round, after moving from the Fantasy label, Cole is accompanied by a larger group than before, with the upper brass being added by Soloff and the bass depth being added by Smulyan. The result is a cohesive sound complemented by Cedar Walton's arrangements.

Cole picks up right where he left off with Fantasy, though, his new CD consisting of songs chosen for the strength of their lyrics and for their romantic implications. In fact, Cole becomes positively Pollyanna-ish on "Take A Little Time To Smile, with its light little sermon like a children's song. Is it possible that Peggy Lee really sang this tune-the Peggy Lee of "Is That All There Is?" Cole even gushes on "If You Went Away" with an unblushing sincerity that lesser talents couldn't get away with. To wit: "If I would lose you/for one precious day/I think I would cry/the biggest teardrops/The whole wide world/has ever known. Has ever known. Has ever known." Has ever known. After plopping that tune in the middle of the CD, though, one doesn't even blink an eye, or cup an ear, the listener being inured to Cole's romanticism by that time.

Freddy Cole can sing a love song without breaking into a sweat. But is it jazz? Does it matter? Either you're with him or against him. And most people are with him. Why would anyone be against such a nice guy with such a positive message and related to such a legendary sibling? Cedar Walton holds back in deference to his friend, as does the rest of the band. Tenor man Eric Alexander, who has appeared on previous Freddy Cole CD's, finally emerges from the background on "It's Impossible," his commentary with Cole becoming as recognizable as Houston Person's with Etta Jones, their "voices" interwoven.

Finally, after brimming with suggestion, Alexander glides into a solo that extends Cole's thought in wordless fashion. "Merry Go Round," un-hyphenated as a CD title but hyphenated as the name of a song, doesn't change Freddie Cole a bit. Why fiddle with a good thing? But Merry Go Round does enlarge the nature of his arrangements as it extends his repertoire that everyone knows by now fits him like a glove.

Track Listing: Watching You, Watching Me; It's Impossible; Merry-Go-Round; I Remember You; Forgive My Heart; Through A Long And Sleepless Night; If You Went Away; Take A Little Time To Smile; I Realize Now/I Miss You So; Smoke Gets In Your Eyes; You're Sensational

Personnel: Freddy Cole, vocals, piano; Cedar Walton, piano; George Mraz, Herman Burney, bass; Curtis Boyd, drums; Lew Soloff, trumpet; Lou Marini, alto sax, alto flute; Eric Alexander, tenor sax; Gary Smulyan, baritone sax; Steve Davis, trombone; Jerry Byrd, guitar

Title: Merry Go Round | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Telarc Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Crossing CD/LP/Track Review Crossing
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Unit[e] CD/LP/Track Review Unit[e]
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Such A Sky CD/LP/Track Review Such A Sky
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Buer: Book Of Angels Volume 31 CD/LP/Track Review Buer: Book Of Angels Volume 31
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: June 25, 2017
Read BACHanalia CD/LP/Track Review BACHanalia
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Hallways CD/LP/Track Review Hallways
by Paul Rauch
Published: June 24, 2017
Read "Absurdist Theater" CD/LP/Track Review Absurdist Theater
by Jerome Wilson
Published: October 9, 2016
Read "Music From Our Soul" CD/LP/Track Review Music From Our Soul
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 20, 2017
Read "For Free" CD/LP/Track Review For Free
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: February 13, 2017
Read "Planets + Persona" CD/LP/Track Review Planets + Persona
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 29, 2017
Read "Monk's Cha Cha" CD/LP/Track Review Monk's Cha Cha
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 8, 2017
Read "No Coming, No Going – The Music of Peter Kuhn 1978-1979" CD/LP/Track Review No Coming, No Going – The Music of Peter Kuhn...
by John Sharpe
Published: August 5, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.