Sunday, December 14, 2014

Freddy Cole's Singing the Blues

There is an appealing weariness in Freddy Cole’s treatment of a Bobby Bland recording “This Time I’m Gone For Good,” that is on  his new High Note album, “Singing the Blues,” On this release, Cole handles classic blues themes and some originals that also include mournful ballads. Simply singing here, he is accompanied by John Di Martino on piano, Harry Allen on tenor sax, Randy Napoleon on guitar Elias Bailey on bass and Curtis Boyd on drums with Theresa Hightower sharing vocals on two of the eleven songs.

Derrick Lucas’ liner notes note that the music on this recording reflects the era in which Cole grew up that was “the final generation of African-Americans to view the blues as their own popular music and culture,” and the renditions contained “reflect the elegance of the blues represented by Charles Brown, Percy Mayfield, Amos Milburn and Ivory Joe Hunter and of course, Freddy’s brother Nat.”

It is 50 years ago when Freddy Cole recorded his first album that contained a rendition of Freddie Spruell’s “Muddy Water Blues.” His current rendition begins this CD in a very appealing manner. A real highlight is the rendition of “Goin’ Down Slow,” which reflects the Oliver Nelson-Stanley Turrentine rendition of the song that is set to the groove of Percy Mayfield’s “River’s Invitation.” Allen’s marvelous tenor sax and Napoleon’s fleet guitar evokes memories of Charles Brown’s terrific 1990s group with the late Clifford Solomon and Danny Caron. Another song that captures this ambiance is brother Nat’s “My Mother Told Me” with terrific short solos from Allen and Napoleon.

Cole’s relaxed vocal is matched with Theresa Hightower’s vivacious one of “All We Need Is a Place” about getting it on to snuggle and more. Cole penned the original blues that lends the album its title as he warns this girl she will be singing the blues one of these mornings, she will be miserable and while he won’t be happy, Freddy will feel great. “The Ballad of the Sad Young Men” is a moody lament about sad young men drifting through their lives while growing. Allen’s tenor adds to the melancholy of the performance.

Steve Allen’s “An Old Piano Plays the Blues” closes this album with Allen’s tenor again complementing Cole’s mournful vocal along with a deftly played solo from Di Martino. Freddy Cole’s “Singing the Blues” indeed captures the sophisticated eloquence of the blues of late forties and early fifties. Not simply Freddy Cole’s fans, but fans of the late Charles Brown and his contemporaries should enjoy this recording of late night blues and ballads.

I received my review copy from High Note Records.  Here Freddy Cole is performing Muddy Water Blues.

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