"In essence, I'm a storyteller. Learning how to tell a story is difficult, though; it required a lot of experiences in a lot of different places. The critical experience for me was my first trip to Brazil, in 1978. That's where I heard how the Brazilians could convince you that they were singing directly to you." —Freddy Cole
Freddy Cole, one of our greatest living jazz singers, is renowned for skillful interpretations that swing and satisfy. On Rio de Janeiro Blue, his second Telarc release, Cole embraces romantic classics from both American and Brazilian perspectives.
The eleven tracks on Rio de Janeiro Blue include Cole Porter's "I Concentrate on You," the jazz favorite "Invitation," a Cuban bolero "Delirio," Brazilian composer Edu Lobo's "Just to Say Goodbye," and "Sem Voce," a tune by Antonio Carlos Jobim that Cole sings in Portuguese.
The smoky-voiced singer and younger brother of Nat "King" Cole takes great pains in selecting both material and accompanying musicians when he records. This latest collaboration with producer Todd Barkan finds Cole in two well-matched settings, a septet that emphasizes Latin American flavors and his regular band (with guitarist Jerry Byrd, bassist Herman Burney and drummer Curtis Boyd). The septet tracks spotlight the piano and arrangements of Arturo O'Farrill, and feature Angel "Papo" Vazquez on trombone, Michael Mossman on flugelhorn and trumpet, Lou Marini on alto flute and tenor saxophone, and Steve Berrios on drums. Cole's vocals are further embellished by the detailed and expressive guitar work of Joe Beck (a Steely Dan veteran and the first electric guitarist to record with Miles Davis).
Lionel Frederick Cole was born on October 15, 1931, the youngest of Edward and Paulina Nancy Cole's five children. His elder brothers, Eddie, Ike and Nat (twelve years Freddy's senior) were all musicians. In Chicago, home of his youth, visitors included Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Lionel Hampton. He also credits Billy Eckstine as a major influence. After a career as a football player with the NFL was shelved due to a hand injury, Cole began playing in Chicago clubs. He later moved to New York where he studied at the Juilliard School of Music. He earned a master's degree at Boston's New England Conservatory of Music and then spent several months on the road. He has been recording since 1952 and through years of touring has become an international favorite.
Released in May 2000, Cole's Grammy-nominated Telarc debut, Merry Go Round (CD-83493), was a remarkable collection of eleven modern pop masterpieces. Supported by a solid cast of musicians, including Cedar Walton and a stellar horn section, Cole proved himself to be a unique stylist of jazz and American popular song.