Music » Critics' Picks

Freddy Cole

Wednesday-Saturday, May 16-19; Bistro Europa.

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In 1990, Freddy Cole released an album on the Sunnyside label called I'm Not My Brother, I'm Me. It's certainly not a typical title for a recording, but when you happen to be the youngest brother of jazz legend Nat "King" Cole -- and you also happen to play piano and sing -- you must resign yourself to the inevitable comparisons. Despite the late Nat's formidable shadow, Freddy Cole has managed to build a solid career as a jazz vocalist. Although he first started working as a professional musician in 1952, after his pro-football career was cut short by injury, Cole didn't really come into his own until 1990, with the aforementioned Sunnyside release, which marked his full-scale commitment to jazz.The decision to confront his legendary brother on his own stylistic turf has paid off: The New York Times lauded Cole as "the most maturely expressive male jazz singer of his generation, if not the best alive." At first blush, such praise might seem excessive -- but hearing Cole in the intimate setting of the Bistro Europa, with longtime musical compatriots Jerry Byrd on guitar, Herman Burney on bass and drummer Curtis Boyd, just might make a believer of you.

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