In The Name of Love, Cole’s exciting new album of contemporary music on the Telarc label, is filled with just such mystery. Cole gets romantic with the unique interpretations of eleven celebrated love songs, including Boz Scaggs' Harbor Lights, Smokey Robinson's "Just to See Her and Van Morrison's Have I Told You Lately. Supported by an all-star cast of musicians including jazz vocalist Jane Monheit, Freddy Cole is a singer in definite ascendance, as he invests loads of his huge heart and boundless warmth in the name of love.
Jazzreview: Your CD In the Name of Love is an exciting new album. Tell us about the recording?
Freddy Cole: Jason Miles and I did the recording in New York City. We got our heads together and did the arrangement, and the rest is history. We have the sensational sound of Jane Monheit doing the song ‘Remember Me.’ She and I were both at the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival. One afternoon, we just got together at the piano and ran through some songs. We were both in New York the next week. We did two takes and that was it. She's a very talented lady. I don't believe in staying in the studio all day [laughter].
Jazzreview: When you're finding material, it must require a lot of patience. Was it difficult finding the best material for In the Name of Love?
Freddy Cole: Not really, that's the fun part of doing a CD with me. I get a chance to listen and look at a lot of songs, then you get an idea of what you want to do and you pick songs according to what the concept is. Once we zeroed in on the theme, the songs just fell in place. They tell the whole story.
Jazzreview: How do you go about selecting an array of top notch musicians for the album?
Freddy Cole: I actually left that to Jason. He selected musicians he was comfortable working with. I feel whoever he brought in I could work with, so it didn't bother me.
Jazzreview: You had the best working with you.
Freddy Cole: I had worked with these guys before so that's the reason I said it wasn't a problem at all, because they are top notch guys.
Jazzreview: Who were some of your greatest influences and why?
Freddy Cole: I had so many influences so it would be hard to zero in on one person. But collectively, I would say my biggest influences were Billy Eckstine , my brother Nat Cole and Billy Daniels as male singers. As for female singers, the perennial three-Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn and Carmen McCrae. Carmen and I are very dear friends. There's so many different people over the years that I've had the opportunity to work with and be around. Also, Ruth Brown is one of my dearest friends. I use to play for Ruth and her interpretations of songs. So collectively you get a little bit here and a little bit there. And there it is! And the beautiful Lena Horne, none can beat that. So you start naming names and you're talking about everyone in the business [laughter].
Jazzreview: You're right!
Freddy Cole: It is, I came up during the times where I was lucky enough to see all these people. That's one thing I talk to young people about. Unfortunately, they didn't get the opportunity to see some of these great people that created this music.
Jazzreview: I understand we almost missed your great sound if you had gone into the NFL.
Freddy Cole: Yes, they had put a little yeast in that too [laughter]. I did have several scholarships to play football, but I had a hand injury. So consequently, I graduated from high school in the hospital. That cut those aspirations, but that was my first love. I use to play football and baseball. Actually I played all the balls. . .football, basketball, baseball. That was my passion. But getting hurt was my blessing. A lot of people say, ‘What a shame!’ No, it wasn't a shame. It was a blessing.
Jazzreview: What would you say, as far as events in your life or career, that had the greatest impact on you?
Freddy Cole: There's so many crooks and turns in one's life. In fact, I've been fortunate enough to play everywhere. I've done so many different things with so many different people. But I would have to say one of the things that changed my life and made me an international musician was the fact that I started recording over in Europe with a big band, a forty-two piece orchestra that I recorded with in London. It really knocked me out and changed the path of my whole being. Plus it made me an international singer and I learned to sing in different languages.
Jazzreview: I know you're very into jazz, but I know that you're not limited to jazz . You've done Blues and Broadway.
Freddy Cole: Over and above, it's a musical industry. A lot of the standard songs are ones you've been hearing over the years. The bulk of them came from Broadway. Broadway has been very instrumental in the background of music and also in jazz music. Although as musicians, we play all different kinds of things. But when it comes to grabbing songs, there it is. You can never go wrong with Duke Ellington. You can never go wrong with Cole Porter. All these people have written for Broadway. I cut my teeth on that kind of thing, even though I can tap my feet hearing the Blues. That's Life!
Jazzreview: You've dedicated the album in memory of Ray Brown. That is truly an honor to a great musician.
Freddy Cole: He was a very dear friend of mine. We use to play a lot of golf together. He will be gone a year next month. I recently spoke to his wife who is doing fine. I laughed and told her the only thing that makes me mad is he left here owing me four dollars [laughter]. We had a bet on golf. She got a kick out of that.
Jazzreview: What else can we expect from Freddy Cole?
Freddy Cole: I'll be coming out with a few more new things. I'm working on a few other things.
Jazzreview: What advice would you give a newcomer into Jazz?
Freddy Cole: Learn as much as you can about the business, especially the business end. Make yourself available to as many things as you possibly can. It's not how great you play in this business. If you're lucky enough, you'll get a record contract. The one thing that will get you over is a good publicist. Learn your instrument, get your voice together, and get your material together. It's always good to be professional. And as soon as you can get your money together, invest it in you.