Home in Atlanta after a week’s West Coast swing, Freddy Cole spoke about the dilemma facing professional musicians.
“Sometimes when I’m home I want to be out and sometimes when I’m on the road I want to be home,” the pianist and vocalist said. “But this is what I love. I’m in the people business, so the road is what I do.”
Headlining the Shelter Island Jazzfest, which kicks off Monday, August 10 and runs through Saturday, August 15 at the Dory, is a special labor of love for Cole and his quartet.
This will be the sixth August in a row he’s played the Bridge Street restaurant, music venue and watering hole. “We come out to Shelter Island to have some fun, play some music and have a beer or two,” Cole said.
The younger brother of the legendary Nat “King” Cole, Freddy is cast in the same mold as a sophisticated vocalist and piano player.
But as the Chicago Tribune recently reported, “Freddy Cole is not his brother’s keeper, or at least not a keeper of his legacy. Instead, the younger sibling offers his own, deeply personalized view of jazz singing and piano, though it springs from the same milieu that gave us the great Nat Cole.”
Freddy has been touted as a master of every style of American music from gut bucket blues to a smooth, artful way with a ballad. Like his brother and another mentor, Billy Eckstine, Cole makes everything he touches swing.
The noted jazz critic Ralph A. Miriello calls Cole “a national treasure” who is “a masterful entertainer.”
The Jazzfest will also feature some musicians well known to Island fans, including the HooDoo Loungers and jazz great, trumpeter Dick Behrke, who brings a new quintet to the Jazzfest featuring saxophonist John Ludlow.
Cole came to Shelter Island at the invitation of his friend, Jack Kiffer, owner of the Dory. They met in Chicago, about 30 years ago, or in a sly aside from the musician, “I can’t remember that far back.”
He likes the atmosphere of the Island. “It’s so relaxed and so doggone simple,” he said. “That’s what I get from Shelter Island.”
For dates and other information on the Jazzfest, visit shelterislandjazzfest.com.