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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

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Music Maestro Please

HighNote HCD 7168




1. I’ll Never Be the Same
2. My Ideal
3. Medley: Don’t Take You Love From Me/I Never Had a Chance
4. Music, Maestro, Please!
5. If I Love Again
6. Why Did I Choose You?
7. Once in a While
8. You Leave Me Breathless
9. There Are Such Things
10. You Could Hear a Pin Drop
11. How Do You Say Auf Wiedersehen?
Freddy Cole – Vocals
Bill Charlap – Piano
Peter Washington – Bass (tracks 1, 2, 4, 5, 7-11)
Kenny Washington – Drums (tracks 1, 2, 4, 5, 7-11)

Freddy Cole has always lived in the shadow of his elder brother, Nat, and indeed of his niece, Natalie. Yet he has a pleasant voice and can accompany himself efficiently at the piano. On this album he leaves the piano duties to Bill Charlap, who accompanies him with tasteful discretion, with subdued support from Peter and Kenny Washington (no relations!). And the repertoire is healthily unhackneyed, including little-known songs like Irving Berlin’s I Never Had a Chance and Johnny Mercer’s How Do You Say Auf Wiedersehen?

It all sounds promising, so why am I somewhat disappointed? I know that Freddy specialises in gentle sentimental songs but most of the songs are very much on the same level: slow ballads, except for There Are Such Things, which allows Bill Charlap to take a bluesy piano solo. In fact Charlap’s playing is the highlight of this CD and I would have liked to have heard more of him.

Freddy Cole’s voice is certainly attractive - similar to brother Nat’s but also comparable to Tony Bennett’s slightly gruffer latter-day style. However, Freddy seems to rely on beauty of tone to gloss over his vague intonation. His pitching is so approximate that it sometimes approaches sprechgesang. If you don’t already know the songs on the album, you’ll be unlikely to go away humming them, even after several listens, as Freddy masks the melodies with his imprecise delivery. It’s a pity, as otherwise the album has so much going for it - particularly the impeccable accompanying trio.

Tony Augarde

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