The Freddy Cole Quartet performs Friday, October 5, and Saturday, October 6, in the Studio Theater at the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd, Miami. There are two sets each night, at 7:00 and 9:00. Tickets cost $25. Call 305-949-6722, or visit www.carnivalcenter.org.
There's a number in Fred Cole's live set in which he addresses head-on the fact that he is Nat "King" Cole's "baby" brother. It's a midtempo blues song that encapsulates the challenges of such a distinction, and his performances of it practically overflow with dry wit and self-deprecating humor. Most of all, "I'm Not My Brother, I'm Me" feels like a deeply respectful love letter to Nat.
He also ruminates on other elements of his family dynamic on his Website: "I started playing piano at five or six. Music was all around me." That's a heck of an understatement, considering that visitors to his Chicago family home included Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Lionel Hampton.
Fifty years later, his piano playing and singing easily straddle the fine line between jazz and cabaret, and he has continued to keep company with the earls, counts, dukes, and kings of the music realm. It's his approachable, friendly, regular-guy attitude, though, that makes him an original and irresistible entertainer.
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