Remembering Freddy Cole ’56, hon. DM ’12

Freddy Cole with Ken Schaphorst on the Jordan Hall stage
Freddy Cole waves and smiles while receiving an honorary doctorate from NEC.
Freddy Cole accepting an honorary doctorate from NEC in 2012.

NEC mourns the loss of Freddy Cole ’56, hon. DM ’12, who passed away on June 27, 2020 at the age of 88.

A multiple Grammy nominee, Freddy began his career in New York in the early 1950s while a student at Juilliard. A pianist and vocalist, he went on to study Popular Music at New England Conservatory before launching a career spanning more than half a century. He built an international following and toured frequently, both as sideman and as a bandleader. His expansive recording career ranged from 1952 to his final album, released in 2018.

Cole recently graced the Jordan Hall stage in an April 2019 concert honoring his elder brother, Nat King Cole. Freddy Cole performed alongside the NEC Jazz Orchestra, and performed with his quintet, including his son Lionel Cole.

“After deciding to pay tribute to Nat King Cole’s 100th birthday last April, the first thing I did was reach out to Freddy Cole, an NEC alum and Honorary Doctorate recipient who also happens to be Nat King Cole’s younger brother. It was an honor and a pleasure working with such a consummate musician,” said Jazz Studies department chair Ken Schaphorst. “As a pianist and vocalist himself, Freddy can’t help but be compared to his brother, but Freddy had a long and illustrious career of his own. And considering that his last recording, 2018's My Mood is You, garnered his 4th Grammy nomination for Best Vocal Album, he was going strong until the end.”

From the April 2019 concert, here is Freddy Cole performing "The Rules of the Road":

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